A Golden Girls opening, Airplane! references, and humus. This isn’t Chris Berman’s SportsCenter. Yesterday, ESPN debuted their new 6 o’clock eastern version of their iconic show. In many ways the 6 o’clock version has been a little odd. Yesterday’s games are old news and today’s games have not been played yet. As more of us get our highlights on our mobile devices, it was time to give the show a facelift. Much like how they turned their late-night edition into a showcase for Scott Van Pelt and SportsCenter AM became a morning show, SC6 or “The Six” has become a showcase for rising stars Michael Smith and Jemele Hill.
An evolution of their previous ESPN2 show, His & Hers which debuted in 2014, this rendition of SportsCenter highlights what makes the duo unique. Let’s take a look at the hosts.
Michael Smith joined ESPN in 2004, following his time as a reporter for the Boston Globe. Since joining the network, Smith has regularly appeared on ESPN studio programs in a wide variety of roles including as an NFL reporter and insider for SportsCenter, NFL Live and Sunday NFL Countdown. He also periodically appears as a panelist on Around the Horn and The Sports Reporters. Additionally, he was a correspondent for E:60 from 2007-10.
After stints as a reporter for The Detroit Free Press and the Orlando Sentinel, Jemele Hill joined ESPN in November 2006 as a national columnist for ESPN.com, and she gradually began making appearances on television, including SportsCenter, First Take, Around the Horn, The Sports Reporters and Outside the Lines.
But how is the show?
Well let’s run through it…. It began with a Golden Girls parody where Michael and Jemele thank each other for being a friend. Let’s be honest, there are much worse ways to start any show than with The Golden Girls.
Once we get to the set you will notice that the desk brings the two hosts closer together to encourage interaction. This isn’t a debate show like First Take or Around the Horn, but there is plenty of conversation. The chemistry between the two hosts is what makes it work. Sometimes you feel like they might know each other two well and are not in on their inside jokes. (Though we did learn that Hill drives a Maserati and Smith likes humus).
Being the day after the Super Bowl, the conversation had a natural starting point. They asked each other if Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback of all-time, and then continuing by asking if he is the best football player of all time. They then moved to the Falcons asking if this was the biggest choke of all time.
The action then moved to Walt Disney World for a fun yet informative interview with Super Bowl Champion James White. It should be noted that the six o’clock SportsCenter featured an interview with the three o’clock parade in the background so the show may not be totally live. White revealed his thoughts on Tom Brady as well as his love of Space Mountain.
The Boston focused edition then included an interview with “Mr. 4th Quarter” Isaiah Thomas of the Boston Celtics.
The show wrapped up with a segment they brought over from Him & Hers. “Doin’ Too Much” features five figures that might be trying a little bit too hard. The initial installment included Tom Brady for his stolen jersey, Bill Belichick for saying they are already five weeks behind in the next season, President Trump for leaving his Super Bowl party early, Mr. Clean for his sexy Super Bowl ad, and Lady Gaga for jumping off the stage at her Super Bowl Halftime show.
So how did I like it? It is hard to judge a sports show on an installment that airs the day after the Super Bowl. That being said, Michael and Jemele are incredibly likeable. She even made a reference to Airplane! How can you not love someone who will bust out the “Don’t call me Shirley” quote. Hopefully future editions will allow a little bit more variety. The show could excels when the conversation goes to unique places and isn’t the 15,000 broadcast to ask if Tom Brady is the greatest of all time.
The set keeps a nice balance of having a unique flavor while still feeling like SportsCenter. The music also feels familiar yet new. I believe “The Six” has a bright future ahead of itself. As Hill and Smith become more comfortable with their expanded surroundings, I think the flow between importance and fun will feel more natural and will be a new destination for sports fans.