SBD/January 6, 2012/Media

HBO Wraps Up Another Season Of "24/7" With Focus On Winter Classic

Final installment of "24/7" series centered on Rangers-Flyers outdoor game
The final installment of HBO's "24/7 Flyers-Rangers: Road to the NHL Winter Classic" did a "fantastic sell job on the importance of the Classic itself, despite it being just another regular season game," according to Greg Wyshynski of YAHOO SPORTS. The story told on the ice during the game was "more compelling than last season's finale," which featured the Penguins and Capitals. Wyshynski: "It was, overall, a better episode. It wasn't, overall, a better season -- and the fact that some of the beats in this and other installments now feel like part of a '24/7' template made for some predictability that the debut season didn't possess." The first season was better from a "dramatic storytelling perspective," but this season "might have produced a greater variety of players you cared about" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 1/6). NBCSPORTS.com's James O'Brien wrote under the header, "HBO Hits The High Point In Engrossing 24/7 Finale." The Rangers and Flyers "produced so many storylines in the last week that HBO probably gathered enough material for two jam-packed hours." The final hour "captured the most compelling threads with HBO’s artful mix of great music and stunning cinematography, leaving us all wanting more -- just like the 2011 edition" (NBCSPORTS.com, 1/5). NHL.com's Bob Condor writes, "Many viewers will decide this is the best '24/7' episode of the season, and over the last two Classics" (NHL.com, 1/6). In Philadelphia, Ryan Petzar wrote the "best parts of this show are the brief moments captured by the mics the players wear on the ice." He noted one of his favorite parts of the show was Rangers RW Brandon Prust, "having witnessed an opponent cheap shot on a teammate" during a game against the Panthers, telling one of his linemates: “I was gonna jump him, but I didn’t want to get suspended -- not right before the Winter Classic.” Petzar: "It was clearly not just for the cameras" (PHILLY.com, 1/5).

UP & DOWN THE ICE: ESPN.com's Scott Burnside wrote perhaps one of the "best elements of the four-part hockey reality series" is its "sense of time and place." It is "long enough to tell interesting, often compelling, just as frequently profane stories of life" in the NHL. Yet the series is "not too long to make it seem dull and finishes with a natural end point -- the Winter Classic -- in the middle of a season that often seems endless." But it is "not a show without its flaws, and we can only hope that next year's version won't sidestep storylines because they are awkward or don't fit ... like a puzzle piece into the narrative." Earlier in the series, the announcement that Flyers D Chris Pronger was out for the season after sustaining a concussion "passed almost unnoticed." And perhaps "most egregious was a lack of attention paid to Derek Boogaard, a former New York Ranger tough guy who was one of three players to die last offseason" (ESPN.com, 1/5).

BACK FOR MORE? YAHOO SPORTS' Wyshynski wrote, "From the language to the candor to the cameras in places where fans and media can't go, 'HBO 24/7' has presented two seasons of addictive, appointment television." What next season will provide "is a mystery -- including whether there will be a third season." When asked if "24/7" could shift its focus from the Winter Classic to another part of the NHL season, HBO Senior Producer Dave Harmon said, "No idea. There's a lot of [things] that have to happen. We're focused on this year." Wyshynski noted whether there will even be a "24/7" series next year is a "sensitive subject for those involved in the production." The viewership numbers "were down this season, at least on the night when the show premiered, yet the buzz is still palpable among sports fans." HBO Sports President Ken Hershman said that "nothing has been determined for a third season" of the show. NHL COO John Collins also was "non-committal for next season, although he clearly hopes to renew" the series (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 1/5).
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