There’s a show out there on NewsMax TV called the Daily Wrap. You may have read about it recently since reviews of the show have been popping up all over the internet. I’m going to venture a guess that many of those reviews were spurned on the same way this one was; from an email appeal from host Joe Concha. First time I’m reviewing something because someone on the show asked me to. But I had already considered doing one before Concha’s email showed up in my in box because something about that show made me want to come back and see it again. But if this review goes south Concha knows he has himself to blame. Be careful what you wish for…
I suppose the Daily Wrap needs all the publicity it can get. I’ll lay odds that this show has gotten more internet attention in the form of these reviews the past few weeks than NewsMax TV has gotten in the entirety of its existence. That’s probably not an exaggeration either. Hell, I didn’t even know about NewsMax TV showing up on DirecTV until I caught an ad for it on another channel and that’s where I found the Daily Wrap which my program guide said was hosted by Joe Concha. So I just had to go watch it. Mediaite first made mention of the show…weeks after I discovered it (which I thought a little strange since the host of the show writes a lot for the site so why the huge delay Kirell?)
Unlike Carpe Diem’s claims in its review of the show…the show is in HD (Diem’s feed may be an SD version though). However DirecTV has squeezed the HD picture horizontally to fit in an SD space. That is beyond fugly as everyone looks like a potential Top 3 NBA pick. Someone needs to fix that ASAP.
NewsMax TV is essentially a shoestring operation at this point. Worse than MSNBC and FNC when they launched. Probably on par with Current when it snagged Olbermann. Maybe a little worse.
The Daily Wrap is a victim of this and the Mexican jumping bean like decision making of its owner Chris Ruddy. When Mediaite made mention of the show, it had just been given a 10pm repeat. A few weeks later…POOF!…said repeat was replaced with non-sequitur crapola about Nazi Germany. Way to go Ruddy! If NewsMax TV or The Daily Wrap eventually ends up imploding I have no doubt Ruddy will have inadvertently had a hand in their demise.
The show manages to fight past all this though, sorta like the post Nuclear Apocalypse cockroach. Despite the now you see it, now you don’t programming, despite the slightly better than 1990’s era Local Cable Public Access TV production values…there is something there. What it is, I’m just not sure yet.
Let’s be clear here. I am not a fan of talking head politics/watercooler programming. That format has been done to death. It is everywhere…and it’s still flourishing. But there is something that separates The Daily Wrap from the other shows. Actually it’s probably a combination of things; some deliberate, some just a result of circumstances.
There isn’t a “name” on The Daily Wrap but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a star in the making. However that star isn’t Concha. Concha acquits himself fine as a host but he gets eclipsed every time Rick Ungar opens his mouth. Ungar was a blank slate for me but after several viewings I still couldn’t make out which side of the political spectrum he fell on. Tonight I looked it up. He doesn’t talk like a Maddow or an Olbermann or a Matthews or (worse of the worst) an Eleanor Clift. His voice is unique on cable news; authoritative without being condescending (most of the time). Factual (well as factual as a POV pundit can be anyways) without being argumentative.
There is a chemistry there between Ungar and Concha. It seems to be perpetually teetering on the verge of falling into that dreaded world of “inside the ballpark” politics where the average viewer has references and asides shoot right over their head. This may be partially a result of the shoestring which NewsMax TV operates with. A tighter production system might do more to pull back the show from that precipice. Then again, if it were to pull back, might some of the other positive aspects of this Anti-Political Rountable Political Roundtable format die in the process? It’s a tricky proposition.
Besides Ungar and Concha, there’s a revolving door of third and (later in the show) fourth panelists. One could classify most of these people as D-list panelists…people I’ve not seen much, if not anything, of on cable news before. This actually works in the show’s favor most of the time because we aren’t getting the usual suspects that we see all the time on CNN, MSNBC, and FNC. It is a breath of fresh air for a format desperately needing one.
One thing that a tighter production system might do is streamline the show. In my opinion the show tackles too many subjects. I’ve seen segments get cut off well before they should have run their proper course, all in the name of either time (which is understandable) or in the name of getting to the next subject (which is far less understandable).
And then there are the throwaway subjects; usually of the tabloid fodder/watercooler variety. When the show steers into that territory, more times than not I start looking longingly at my remote. Stick to the politics and world affairs. There’s plenty of worthy subjects there to cover which don’t get enough coverage on the headline obsessed red/blue politics driven gabfests on the other networks.
The Daily Wrap still is not really my cup of tea but it’s better than most of the all too predictable roundtable shows currently available on cable news. It seems to be making a genuine attempt at programming agendaless TV. I can’t say the same for most of The Daily Wrap’s competition.
NewsMax TV could very well have a hit show on its hands. Eventually. If people can find it. If the focus tightens a bit and they add another permanent panelist. And if they can keep Ruddy’s fingers off the controls long enough. I’m not holding my breath on that last one.