Last month, Keith Olbermann‘s bosses at ESPN and Disney said they were “blessed” to have him back — after very public stints at and exits from MSNBC and Current TV. Not to mention his nasty retreat from ESPN in 1997. (The network expunged any trace of Olbermann from its 25th anniversary SportsCenter “Reunion Week.”) So there was plenty of anticipation about how his new weeknightly ESPN2 show Olbermann would play. As it turned out, there was snark but no fury. The issues he touched on mostly were East Coast-specific and not really controversial. He didn’t get into any of the recent headline-making stories involving his new network (the NFL concussions documentary, a new rival in Fox Sports 1, Nate Silver’s hiring). There was a bare-bones set and no splashy graphics, hinting that the Worldwide Leader is content to put the focus solely on Olbermann. The results were, of all things, pretty dull.His lone foray into politics was a joke about how New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie had weighed in on a media-manufactured story about New York Jets coach Rex Ryan. (During his appearance at the TCA Summer Press Tour last month, Olbermann promised to work “Carlos Danger” into opening night. He didn’t.) His first guest, outspoken ESPN columnist Jason Whitlock, provided the hour’s best moments, but not even a segment with fiery Dallas Mavericks owner and general boatrocker Mark Cuban caught fire. Instead there was “The Worst Sports Persons in the World” and two probably recurring segments: “Keith Lights,” during which Olbermann opined over the day’s sports highlights and lowlights, and “This Week in Keith History,” where producers pulled out some old video of the host (he claimed he didn’t know what it would be). None of it was very memorable. Tune in tomorrow, if you care.
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