Friday, September 5, 2008

The Journey: Zooker is a TV Star!

So I watched The Journey: Illinois Football this week, and I have to say...what the hell was J Leman doing in the intro? Seriously, shouldn't he be in an NFL camp somewhere? Yet there he was, talking up Illinois and their magical season from 2007. It shocked me to be honest. In a TV show that is supposed to highlight Illinois' 2008 football season, why would they show someone no longer on the team?

That wasn't the only thing that caught me a little off guard about the show; in fact, most of the show itself caught me off guard. Granted, I never watched an episode of the Minnesota Basketball version of The Journey, but here are a few surprising tidbits from my viewing:

1)That they went straight up to the Mizzou game in episode 1. Maybe I was expecting something more along the lines of HBO's Hard Knocks, but I expected the BTN to highlight more of the preseason camp portion of the season. Show me more practice time. The Oklahoma Drill was excellent, but I wanted more. Show me the annual trip to the waterpark...even ESPN picked up on that one!

2)That they didn't highlight the coaches more. Zook works out non-stop, but we only get one shot of him on a stair-stepper!?! (sidenote: a stair-stepper, really? I pictured Zook as more of a weightlifter/stationary bike guy. The stair-stepping really dropped him down a notch or two in my book.) Why did we only get one shot of the coaches watching film? I wanted some practice film breakdown, some team meeting film teaching...something!

3)Player Profiles. Or lack thereof. I guess I was expecting there to be 3-4 players highlighted, their stories told and characters somewhat developed in the first episode. Then we would follow those players throughout the season. One would be the star (Juice), one would have overcome an injury/adversity, one would have been outgoing (Brit Miller), and one would have been an up-and-coming freshman stud who had to earn playing time but broke through by the end of the season. I didn't get it. Sure, they interviewed the center, Juice, Rejus, and Will Davis...but we didn't get any character development. And they followed some freshman to class (a B.S. football player only type class), but I didn't even pick up his name. If they want us to fall in love with these players, they need to tell us more about them.

As it turns out, J Leman was cut by the Vikings, thus had some time on his hands (which goes further to prove how Illinois' sum was greater than its parts last year). But that doesn't mean I wanted him on The Journey. I think my wants are simple. I want to watch this show; I want to like this show; and I want to love the subject of the show. But I need more BTN, I need more. I want the drama to unfold in front of me. I want clever editing that makes awkward silences in places that you can tell there weren't akward silences. I want position battles, coaches yelling, and obligatory shots of sorority girls at the pre-game Block. Basically, I want a full contact version of The Hills with football pads. Is that too much to ask?


  1. EDIT: I didn't mean to come across so negative in this post. I did like the show. Mustache day was absolutely amazing, and I even gave my friend Whetst1 a hard time about not joining in the contest. Actually, I'm pretty sure he was there, he just wouldn't admit it to me. Also, Brit Miller is an absolutely great personality on tv, just not an elite linebacker. But he was hilarious throughout.

  2. I was there in spirit, Buckingham.

    I agreed with most of what you said, however I give the show overall a thumbs up. I am sure fans of any team would love this kind of behind-the-scenes look. But for it to attract an audience beyond the Illini Nation, you have made some reasonable suggestions.
    Regarding the water park, it is my understanding the film crew is not onsite everyday and that the date for the trip was not set in stone.