The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Saturday, July 10, 2004

ANCHORMAN: THE TED BAXTER TRIBUTE
mano a mano
I went to see Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy last night.

Feh.

It wasn't as terrible as I had feared, but it wasn't that good either. I'm not at all a Will Ferrell fan, but this movie, with its promise of over-the-top '70s stylin', suggested itself to be a perfect match for Ferrell's overly-broad humor. Didn't quite work. According to comments from Ferrell and the writers on the film's official site, they spent most of their time coming up with the Ron Burgundy character and mannerisms first, and then the rest of the story elements afterward--and it showed. (The character-first approach is what dominates the sketch-writing efforts of "Saturday Night Live" these days, which goes a long way toward explaining why that show sucks; as an SNL alum, Ferrell no doubt is trained to develop his scripts this way, and the sooner he breaks himself of this habit, the better.)

But I digress... There was one little tidbit that I found cute. The Ron Burgundy character had a little dog companion named Baxter. Given the subject matter (television news) and the time setting (the '70s), I'm thinking the dog's name was a tribute to Ted Baxter, the original goofy '70s anchorman from "The Mary Tyler Moore Show". Love is all around!

UPDATE: MTV's Karl Heitmueller also makes note of the Ted Baxter influence. Maybe this will lead to a revival of "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" reruns.

Also, there's nothing like getting a woman's perspective on this goofy movie--especially when it's Poynter's Jill Geisler, who was among the first women news directors in television.