157 ( +1 | -1 ) AppallingHere in CT it was on a very minor station, one usually given over to paid programming (this was how the "Chess Masterminds" show was listed in the program guide). Perhaps this colored my impression somewhat, but I thought the whole show was terrible.
It felt very much like an infomercial--there was a lot going on that you couldn't really follow, the commentary was insipid, and just when you thought things were moving along OK, they break into the show with an 800 number and encourage you to buy some of Susan Polgar's merchandise. It was almost as if you could hear a voice-over announcer saying, "Have you ever wanted to play chess like a master? Well now you can!"
ChessBase's article made it sound like this was going to be the start of a campaign to popularize chess and get it on TV more regularly. If this is true, they have a lot of work to do. The production values were terrible, and with four games going on simultaneously, it was impossible to follow the action. The analysis screens in the corner were so small as to be distracting, not helpful, and when they didn't know what to do they popped up a Fritz panel to tell you something insightful like "+0.74."
It was neither an attempt to bring chess to a mass, unfamiliar audience (as has happened recently with poker), nor an effort to package professional chess as a sport (it sure didn't seem like a sports broadcast to me). What it seemed most like was a way to squeeze money out of a credulous gaming public. Perhaps that's unfair, but that's what I got out of it.