‘The Situation Room’ Every Three Minutes

In her review of CNN’s new “The Situation Room,” Slate’s television critic, Dana Stevens, sums up the show as such: “In a landscape of nearly indistinguishable cable yammerfests, The Situation Room’s main claim to innovation is twofold: It’s live, and it’s three hours long. This unusual combination means that the show manages to be at once an impressive technical achievement and a colossal bore.”

She closes her review with Wolf Blitzer interviewing former President Bill Clinton and what was surely the oddest moment of yesterday’s Sit Room:

It was a standard puff-piece interview, somewhere between public-service announcement and campaign stop, which made it all the odder that Blitzer chose to end the encounter by flashing up an old picture of Clinton White House situation room. Describing the picture to the president, Blitzer asked, “You’re now in another situation room, at least via satellite. How does it feel?”

Clinton seemed confused for a fraction of a second before responding with a laugh, “I liked being in the other situation room, but I like this one better. There’s less pressure and more freedom. And I know I can walk out on you–I couldn’t walk out on the other situation room.” As the show prepared to cut to a commercial, the giant screens showed a suddenly tired-looking Clinton, waiting for an aide to remove his body mic. He seemed eager to get away from the delusional Blitzer and back to his real life. From where I sit right now at 5:15:04 p.m. ET, heading into my third straight hour of real-time data collection, I’m inclined to agree.

The show’s length is indeed what we’re becoming more impressed by, you can sit and watch for an hour, then wander around, run an errand or two, go get a bite to eat, watch a couple of episodes of “Entourage,” and then come back–only to find yourself still “in the Situation Room.”

Meanwhile, Blitzer’s obsession with reminding people where they are only seems to be getting worse. After falling to a low of 53 mentions on day two, he reminded viewers that they were in “The Situation Room” 61 times on Wednesday and another 64 times yesterday during the exclusive interview with President Clinton–meaning that, in a three-hour show, he’s mentioning the show’s name more than every THREE MINUTES.

We’ll renew our plea to the teleprompter people at CNN: You could probably get away with saying the show’s name every six minutes and people would still realize what they’re watching.