12/08/2011 02:36 EST | Updated 02/05/2012 05:12 EST

TV Review: NBC's Rock Center (Dec. 5)


*A review of last night's Rock Center w/ Brian Williams, NBC's "new" newsmagazine...

White Cover wrote last week that, to date, Rock Center's biggest fault is that it remains no more than an hour-long extension of Williams' Nightly News, with the occasional bit of humour from Williams. We wrote that, while it's intentions are strong and admirable, it feels caught between a talk show and a news program. It hasn't yet found its feet, but we hope it will.

It's kind of like the movie Invictus... we don't want to not like it, because he don't want to not like Matt Damon, Clint Eastwood, or Nelson Mandela (i.e. Brian Williams, Richard Engel, or The Peacock), but we don't really feel it. We agree it needs more of something, but we don't know what the something is... In the end, we just give it a 70% on Rotten Tomatoes and we watch Mystic River again...

Last night's episode was no different. Captivating at times (the Malian mines stories) and kind of set-up and cornball at others (the Fallon stuff), the show needs a strong New Year's "Rockolution"...

Story One: Richard Engel in Mali (Part I) - Grade: A+

Engel must know he's good. This one - where he documents the lives, wages, and day-to-day duties of miners and child workers in the African country of Mali - was captivating. Engel is like Anderson Cooper was before he got his own show... very, very good at his job.

Story Two: Richard Engel in Mali (Part II) - Grade: A

In this one, part deux, Engel went down into the mining hole. If you're claustrophobic, you gave this a D-minus. If you're like everyone else, you just loved it.

Story Three: The New York traffic thing... - Grade: B-

I'm sure it was good, but it was pretty boring. The whole thing kind of came off like, "Oh, so you have traffic? Tough." Harry Smith made it worthwhile, but that's the case with a lot of the stuff on Rock Center. Even if the story is kind of "magoo," you still end up liking it in some way because the NBC talent is just too cheerful and colourful. Additional points go to Michael Bloomberg for getting that voice on television again.

Story Four: The Urban Art thing... - Grade: B+

It gets major points for capitalizing on all the Banksy rage right now and for that cute kid named Matteo... The New York weather update at the end brought it down (this is a national broadcast, after all).

Story Five: Week in Review - Grade: A

This needs more play...just having Brian Williams go, "Here are some thing we thought you should know" is the best part of the broadcast. How can it improve? What about getting David Letterman in to have a back-and-forth? I know he's not NBC anymore but, come on... they have this Redford-Newman chemistry going on.

Story Six: The Jimmy Fallon Thing - Grade: C+

Jimmy Fallon is slowly becoming the best late night host in America, and Brian Williams is the best anchor in America. Should have been gold, no? Well... you know what they say about corn? Tastes great until you see it in the toilet. (These "couch interview" parts have been full of potential, but none have hit a home run yet. I know the show is new, but maybe go to somebody outside NBC soon? We get it...)

(*Originally posted on White Cover Magazine)