TV Review: “Road Tested” entertaining, unfocused, and effective

The Cleveland Browns’ new TV show “Road Tested” premiered last night on the Travel Channel and I have no idea if it was a good show or not. I know for a fact that I was riveted and couldn’t take my eyes off of it, but in terms of targeted programming there are very few programs that could be targeted any better toward me as a viewer. I’m left mostly thinking the show has potential, but needs to reign in its chaos just a little bit.

In fairness to the pilot episode of “Road Tested” there was a whole lot of ground to cover. In its inaugural episode the producers apparently wanted to introduce the audience to the Cleveland Browns and catch them up to the ownership change and where they are as a team today. The show is meant to give an inside look into preparing for a game and all the things that go on during the week. By nature that process is multi-faceted and chaotic, especially when the grounds crew is faced with hurricane Sandy remnants in field preparation.

Phil Dawson got tons of time in the first episode. We got an inside look on what it takes to prepare a kicking ball. We saw the world’s biggest shoe closet with various planting shoes and kicking shoes. We got an inside look at a couple of Texas families at a steakhouse when the Dawson’s and their kids went out with Colt McCoy and his wife. More on Dawson later.

I won’t recap the whole show, but overall I loved a lot of it. The emotional mid-field meeting between Bernie Kosar and a family that lost their son in the military was particularly moving. For all the flack Bernie takes for running one of the most unintelligible Twitter accounts on the Internet, it’s helpful to be reminded why Clevelanders love the former QB. He’s a big, compassionate guy who wears his heart on his sleeve and is eager to be a great ambassador. The show followed the storyline of Ravens week with a segment on the game and tying up the Dawson storyline with his five field goals in the loss.

As much as I loved the show, I felt it was just a little bit chaotic and unfocused. That leads me to wonder how the show played for NFL fans that are not Browns fans. This first episode had so many things packed in that I am not sure if any parts of it ended up being memorable to more casual fans. Then again, it was just the first episode. There’s certainly time to cover ground in a more methodical and cohesive way now that the groundwork has been laid. Even with some of the issues, I think the show is a big win for the team.

This show is going to humanize the Cleveland Browns and give them the kind of P.R. fluff that they haven’t been able to give themselves since 1999. I use fluff not in a negative way, by the way. We don’t want fluff in Pat Shurmur press conferences, but a produced TV show about the team? The more fluff the better.

For Browns fans this show should feel like a giant step forward or even an enlightening for an organization that is coming off of an owner who couldn’t be bothered to give an interview on an annual basis. It’s absolutely great for Browns fans and hopefully serve as a stepping off point for this team to regain some cultural relevance they’ve lost with all the losing over the years.

If they can just start winning on the field that will obviously help too. In the meantime, there’s nothing wrong with winning in P.R. and media. Can’t wait to see what they do next week with the Browns on the road to visit New Jersey.

  • I think it was great. Not sure what people thought they would see? There’s a reason it’s on the Travel Channel. It wouldn’t be anything other than positive. I love seeing behind the scene stuff. I loved seeing how many shoes Phil Dawson has. I loved seeing the guy prepping the footballs. Can’t wait for the next episode.

  • FearTheRoo

    I think Browns fans will love the show, but I found myself wondering how other football fans would feel. Would I be watching if I wasn’t a Browns fan? How many people outside of Cleveland watched? I think the timeslot might hurt it, not to mention tonight they had to compete against the Victoria’s Secret models on CBS. One thing is I kind of wish it were a hour long show

  • Ezzie Goldish

    Is there any place to see it online? (Missed it while playing football… 🙁 )

  • mgbode

    watching right now. opening has been all about a fluff introduction to Jimmy, which is fine.

  • FearTheRoo

    Its on Travel Channel right now I believe

  • Ezzie Goldish

    I see clips, not the full episode…

  • mgbode

    full episode is playing right now in EST and CST — actual TV, not the webpage

  • I too was surprised that it wasn’t an hour.

  • NamedMyKidPrice

    My take from it was Brandon Weeden is kind of Dorkish, Phil Dawson got too much attention, and Trent Richardson is the coolest guy in the room.
    I get it that Phil has been the mainstay in Cleveland since the return and I do think he is valuable but he is the kicker. Shoe locker was cool but that should have been enough.
    As a fan I want more of Shurmur and the coaching staff. More Banner and the decision makers. More Players. I did like the equipment guy segment.
    All in all I cannot get enough of it but I am emotionally tied to it and I hope other football fans feel the same way as me.

  • Harv 21

    Classic Cleve fan response here: “what will others think of us?!”

    Relax. This is professionally done, formulaic feel-good fluff with carefully chosen subjects, music, and camera angles. They made Jim Brown seem cuddly and likeable – need we say more? People across the globe will enjoy it or be neutral. As a completely crazed Browns fan I loved every minute of this mindless pap, every glimpse of the assistant to the associate groundskeeper measuring daily rainfall at the Holy Lakefront. And to casual viewers this is just pleasant mindless filler. (You guys wanted an hour of what – soil analysis?)

    Most of all, this is brilliant marketing, worth whatever was paid and more. Casual NFL fans will root for Dawson and Trent when they’re covered with their body armor. Good for Haslam. Brilliant.

  • Garry_Owen

    Yes. It should have been an hour.
    I think that the inside stuff would be appealing to any NFL fan. Sure, it was about the Browns, but the things that go into preparing the Browns for a Sunday game are the same things that go into preparing any team. It’s interesting for what it is, apart from the connection to the Browns.

  • Garry_Owen

    Playing football instead of watching football???? What kind of American are you? You’ll never get out of shape that way!

  • Hopwin

    I can sum this up much more quickly. This show was supposed to be an hour and someone editted it with a chainsaw down to 1/2 an hour.

    The flow of the show was: The Browns beat San Diego are about to play the Giants and Phil Dawson kicked 5 field goals to lose to the Ravens. It was crazy disjointed.

  • mgbode

    best part was Phil and his wife at dinner with the McCoy’s. Really, they should center this show around Phil and his wife BSing with each other. Highlight of the show.

  • bossman09

    I’m a browns fan (hard core browns backer who watches EVERY game) so this statement will sound a little wierd – I was hoping for more focus on life in the NFL rather than browns fluff. Not “hard knocks” but how the NFL works. I loved the part about the kicking shows, cleaning the balls, prepping the statium etc but not so much of the “here are the players”. I would like to see more of the “how football works” stuff. Some of the inner workings of a football organization outside of the actual players and games. Also looking forward to some of the actual travel stuff. BTW, thought the show was well produced. Hopefully Mrs. Haslem isn’t the only one who knows how to get stuff done in the family.

  • Return of the (Alex) Mack

    Dan Gilbert woo!

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    It was ok…just loved the backstage looks at Pat Shurmur.

  • Hopwin

    I love that Colt said NOTHING (was the film crew told to do some editting?) while his wife bubbled about PD and his Fam’s “Secret Code”.

  • Ezzie Goldish

    Yeah, I saw after… of course I missed all but the last three minutes, and couldn’t find another showing the next week. 🙁

  • Anthony