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The passing of Stan Berenstain, the co-creator of the Berenstain bears.

The new Nightline: well, it’s only been a few days. Cynthia McFadden from the Times Square studio; Martin Bashir did a story on deaf high school football players (very nice story from the Brit who did far too many Michael Jackson documentaries for my comfort); and Terry Moran from Iraq (doing a nice job so far as I can tell). ABC ditched the old Nightline theme song (boo! How can they do that and still call this show Nightline?) and I don’t really like McFadden. She’s a better anchor for Nightline than, say, George Stephanopolous, but she doesn’t give me a Nightline kind of feeling, even when, last night, she tried to interview the Roman Catholic priests about the Vatican’s policies on homosexual priests (McFadden’s no Koppel). I actually get a better feeling from Bashir (well, working on that; his interviews of Michael Jackson still haunt me – and not in a good way) and Moran (I’ve seen him enough to accept him, but I’ve yet to feel an air of proper authority or confidence in him). I do not like the multi-story format – too much to cover in a short period of time. Pick one or two – not three.

Oh, and last night brought back one Nightline veteran John Donvan (thank goodness! and what happened to the rest of Koppel’s crew?) – he did a story on the pro-life Christians who are praying, in front of the Supreme Court, that the justices will go their way. I miss the old veterans (heck, even Chris Bury, who had to put up with a lot in New Orleans during the Katrina disaster). And, I don’t like too much change too soon. Check out David Bianculli’s review in the Daily News; he pretty much voiced my concerns:

The trio of stories, while commendable in subject, were less so in scope. McFadden’s piece, the one most typical of a classic “Nightline” report, had her questioning priests on opposite sides of the debate about gay clergy. The interview, handled live, could have gone somewhere, but never got the chance. After five minutes, with the gay priest from Albany champing to respond to his colleague’s charge that homosexuality was “a disorder,” McFadden shut down the discussion.

“I’m sorry,” she said, “that’s going to have to be the last word for tonight.”

I’m sorry, too. I would have loved to hear his response. [….]

Dividing the “Nightline” turf by half, rather than thirds, would be a better compromise, if the new regime is insistent on picking up the pace. The correspondents shouldn’t mind waiting their turn, if the resulting rotation provides time for deeper, better reports.

Lock down the camera, and slow down the segments, and the new version of “Nightline” (at 11:35 p.m.) will deserve to retain its time slot – and stand a better chance of building on that proud journalistic tradition.

Hmm. Will ABC News listen to the critics and make adjustments accordingly?

And, speaking further about TV – last night’s “House, M.D.” – has to be the best episode of the season so far. All of Dr. House’s insane mistakes catch up on him (sooner or later, no one was going to tolerate his habit of not personally seeing patients and blackmailing colleagues to save lives); series continuity: we learn that Dr. Chase’s dad did pass away, and it may explain why Chase has been a strange one the last several months (and that House did honor Chase Sr.’s request that Chase not know Chase Sr. was dying of lung cancer) (and, if the timing of the flashbacks are correct, Chase’s mental instability – due to grief of losing an estranged father and issues of faith and things like that – came in the middle of House’s being pissed with him for giving in to Vogler, the ex-hospital CEO/antagonist – making Chase one seriously stressed m.d.); Dr. Foreman’s clueless (does he not realize that he’s the one turning into House, not Chase?); and Dr. Cameron’s really dim (didn’t she realize everyone would know she slept with Chase?); and Dr. Wilson and Dr. House really need real lives (playing with their quarters for a little paper clip field goal kicking with their thumbs – ok, I’m not describing the scene adequately, but it was a very funny scene). I like it when “House” gets into a wacky storyline arc – it can get hairy, but everyone gets a bit of character development, for better or worse.

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