10:30 p.m. Tuesdays
Since it's a sports show -- sports parody, anyway -- I suppose Onion SportsDome deserves a statistic. So let's say it bats roughly .333. Great if you're playing baseball, solid for a humor show.
This half-hour program from the brains behind The Onion, the fake-news organization best known for making fun of politics and the mainstream media, is ESPN's SportsCenter gone berserk. And why not? Between the never-ending stream of stupid remarks by players and coaches, their off-the-field shenanigans, fans' over-the-top reactions and the media's breathless coverage of it all, the world of sports is ripe for mocking.
SportsDome takes full advantage, getting the anchor banter, graphics and day-to-day absurdities of sports just right. In one of the best bits, the show takes us to St. Louis, where everyone is so desperate to keep Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols that the mayor offers him a key that opens every door in town, no questions asked. A fan posts a sign outside his house to alert Pujols that "My daughter is 17, ready and willing." The mayor holds a news conference to say, "The buffet is open." (It's an actor, of course, but the story doesn't feel that far from the truth.)
Elsewhere in the world of parody, a handicapped mixed-martial arts fighter battles for the right to use tungsten alloy hands that give him power equivalent to hitting someone with a car. "Disabled athletes have a long way to go to gain acceptance," the fighter contends.
There's an investigation -- well, a promotional tease for one -- into horse-corking in polo. The result "makes for a lighter, faster horse," we're told. "It happens more often than you think and it's cruel." And there's a bit where it's reported that Major League Baseball will now charge you for any baseball-related memory you have. There'll be deep discounts for bad memories, we're told.
Some genuinely funny stuff, in
But there are also any number of swing-and-a-miss segments in the first two programs, including highlights from the National Crystal Methamphetamine Hallucination League and a debate among three women whose boyfriends all watched a Utah-Oklahoma City basketball game. (SportsDome is recorded well in advance, so don't expect anything timely.)
Then there are the tasteless moments. An exceptionally funny story on a little girl with cancer whose wish is to heckle New York Mets third-baseman David Wright ends with the girl wishing that Wright gets cancer like she has. Who thought that was funny?
Another has New England Patriots Coach Bill Belichick throwing acid in the face of his star quarterback, Tom Brady, because -- according to a SportsDome anchors -- he's "jealous that Brady is handsome and loved while he himself is a hideous monster." A blood-soaked, bandaged "Brady" talks with the media.
The worst moment, however, is a segment called "Who Would You Kill?" in which panelists discuss which sports figures or teams should be offed. In light of what happened last weekend in Arizona with Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, I hope they remove this from Tuesday's premiere. It wasn't funny before and it's completely offensive and inappropriate now.
Generally, I like what The Onion does here with sports. I'm just hoping for a better batting average.