Regularly scheduled TV took a backseat this week — whether you lived in the hurricane zone or not — as the Storm of the Century wreaked havoc in the northeastern United States.
The storm named Sandy cut a huge, wide swath on the East Coast, leaving an area of destruction and mayhem that was so vast that TV news organizations struggled to cover it all. (Here in New York, we happened to notice that at least one of our local stations, NBC-owned WNBC/Ch. 4, flew in reinforcements from KNBC, the company’s L.A. station.)
We watched hours and hours of the coverage starting last Sunday and we thought TV really rose to the occasion. To include every unforgettable scene here would turn this Top Five into a Top Fifty.
So we’ve attempted to narrow our effort down to a chosen few that we hope will more or less encapsulate how TV told the story — from our own personal point-of-view, of course.
1) Larger than life? That would be Chris Christie: And we’re not talking about the New Jersey governor’s very personal struggle with his weight (we happen to think all the late-night jokes about that are unnecessarily mean). It was just that, among all the politicos who we caught on TV this week before, during and after the storm, Christie was the one who, for us, provided just the right leadership. Of course, his outspokenness is not everyone’s cup of tea, as when he publicly lambasted the mayor of Atlantic City for allegedly telling residents in direct path of Sandy to stay put. That was an unusual TV moment, to say the least — a governor bawling out a mayor during a natural disaster. Well, like him or not, Gov. Christie is never boring.
2) An enduring symbol of Sandy: One of the images from the storm coverage that captured viewers’ attention from coast-to-coast was the spectacle of that construction crane, bent in half and hanging precariously over West 57th Street in Manhattan. This limp crane, it’s worth noting, buckled from the winds that were whipping around New York City before the actual storm hit — making it even more miraculous that it didn’t subsequently fall during the height of the storm hours later on Monday night.
3) Water, water everywhere: In the storm’s wake there was water. It was as if this giant storm that slammed into the East Coast had basically picked up a large portion of the Atlantic Ocean and then decided to drop all of it in the cities and towns of New Jersey and New York. Or maybe it was more accurate to say the storm pushed the ocean onto the land. Whatever the case, it was all too much for drainage systems and rivers, and on Friday, residents in many locations, even in places far inland, were still pumping water from their basements and streets.
4) Kimmel’s comic timing: It wasn’t his fault, of course, but Jimmy Kimmel came to New York for a long-planned week of shows from Brooklyn and ran smack into the worst storm to ever hit New York City. The storm forced the cancellation of his first New York show Monday night. And although his show went on more or less as planned in what remained of the week, aspects of the show seemed out of sync with what was going on in New York. That may be because Jimmy came to New York in August to pre-tape a number of bits, and he and his producers still aired them, even though they seemed woefully outdated. One example would be this next clip, in which Jimmy visited a predominantly African-American barber shop in downtown Brooklyn to find out why blacks aren’t supporting Mitt Romney for president. Remember that? There’s still a presidential campaign going on.
5) How the hurricane affected Louis C.K.: The comedian is scheduled to host “Saturday Night Live” this weekend. So he went on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” Thursday night and he and Fallon naturally took up the topic of the big storm. What happened to Louie? Not much, but his boat was destroyed. Who knew Louis C.K. was into boating? Apparently, he is — or was.