The two months or so between the end of the Super Bowl and the beginning of baseball season is generally considered to be the sporting equivalent of the Dead Zone, but frankly we’ve never understood why. For one we love hockey, and not just the NHL but also the even more marginalized sport of college hockey, where every game seems to hold some urgency and the athletes play with the enthusiasm of 10 year-olds on a sugar high. The NBA is in full swing by February and is eminently watchable, especially now that the Warriors are running the same offense used at my 24 Hour Fitness. Most importantly, however, in February and March there is much less competition in the sporting landscape for our obvious predilection, college basketball. Nearly every night features meaningful games, either to the respective schools’ pride, to their Tournament chances, or to an oversexed student body hoping to see Erin Andrews bend over.
But we understand that a Thursday night Fordham/UMass tilt doesn’t get everyone worked up into a lather. There’s still a big world out there, and by a big world out there of course we mean TV, and the watching thereof. So in what may be a running item for as long as it holds our interest, we are going to moderate a battle of the network offerings, more specifically between ESPN and the other most relevant channel on basic cable, the Lifetime Channel. We will take the marquee game from ESPN’s slate the previous night and pit it against whatever the Lifetime Channel had selected to air from its cadre of fine low-budget films. We don’t want to make viewing decisions for you, we just want to provide the viewing public with the tools to decide whether their time would have been better spent watching ESPN continue its torrid affair with Duke for the 12th time this month or watching a C-list actress struggle with infidelity/diet pills/body image/Scott Peterson/justifying the 10% going to her agent.
The first night unfortunately wasn’t much of a contest at all. ESPN’s lineup wasn’t bad, headlined by…surprise, Duke! In this long and storied ACC rivalry, Duke almost shot Maryland out of the gym in the first half before a suddenly spry Maryland team, led by the suddenly electrifying Greivis Vasquez, tried to make it a game. Still, in all it was a by-the-book win for the Dukies. The Texas Tech win over K State on ESPN2 was a bit surprising although ultimately about as interesting as Lubbock itself. The best matchup in the country last night, UConn/Notre Dame, wasn’t even shown nationally, mostly because ESPN’s love for Duke > Digger’s love for the Irish. Sorry Digger, maybe next time.
Frankly, though, it would have taken a Roy Williams/Coach K fistfight to win this first matchup, because Lifetime came out swinging with the Tara Reid vehicle “Devil’s Pond” (Look for the sequel, “Satan’s Cement Pond”, starring Haylie Duff and the guy who played Dauber on “Coach”, sometime in 2009 when the cast and director have a week off from Applebee’s.) After apparently having her face sandblasted, Tara Reid marries Mike Dunleavy and is taken to honeymoon in Ted Kaczynski’s cabin in the middle of a lake. Oops, I mean DEVIL’S POND! Anywho, Ms.Reid is a bit trepidatious about the locale given that she cannot swim, but becomes much more comfortable with her surroundings when her husband tells her the lake is made of vodka. The honeymoon also serves as a kind of “get to know you” for the young couple, as Dunleavy does not know that his new wife cannot swim and Tara does not know that her new husband taught Jerramy Stevens how to treat the ladies. A bit of reality at work there as most of Tara Reid’s relationships end with a “Wait, who the hell are you?” followed by a bout of ferocious vomiting. Much excitement ensues throughout the picture concerning lost birth control pills (since when has Tara Reid been so concerned about contraception?), a bear trap, and a beer bottle that is broken over the husband’s head, which Ms.Reid immediately regrets as it was their last coldie, before I am asked what the hell am I watching and change the damn channel because Project Runway is on.
Score : Lifetime Channel 1, ESPN 0