The Cutting Room: Gary B. Smith Turns TV Critic

It's about time someone vigorously reviewed 'TheStreet.com.' Chartman steps up to the plate.
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It's a sad fact, I guess, but you're nothing these days until some objective third party says you're nothing! Or, hopefully, something.

So, where are the reviews for the

TSC

TV show? I mean, they can repackage

Ally McBeal

into a 1/2-hour show, call it

Ally

, foist it onto the public like we don't give a darn and

that

gets reviewed.

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on TV: Join the discussion on

TSC

Message Boards.

Meanwhile, nary a word about our little weekly show.

Well, I intend to rectify that. Yes, yes, of course I'll be biased. But, look, I'm a trader. I can certainly look at something I have a position in and be somewhat objective.

So, with that in mind, here's the first "official" review of "TheStreet.com" TV show. Hopefully, this will start the ball rolling. Bear in mind, I'm not reviewing any particular week's taping, but rather the show's fundamental elements, which are in evidence every week.

I like the first part of the show -- the "Stock Drill" segment -- but I don't often love it. The problem? The usual participants,

Herb Greenberg

and

Jim Cramer

, are excellent. Yes, I suppose they have the types of personalities you either warm to, or don't (personally, I think they're a hoot). Either way, the fact is they do ask the probing, penetrating questions that are

not

asked on any other financial show.

I mean, seriously, what other show could have a commentator look his guest in the eye and basically tell his guest that likening

Churchill Downs

to

AOL

(AOL)

is completely ridiculous?

Right -- no other show would take that risk. So score a point for

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TV.

The problem? The bulk of the segment is dependent not on the guest's intellect, but on his or her

personality

. And in their defense, most of the guests aren't paid to be charming, funny or entertaining. No, they're paid to make money. No personality requirements for that job.

So, if there is a dull guest, well, it's a dull segment. Really, there's only so much H & J can do to carry the load. It shouldn't come as a surprise then, that

Jeffrey Bronchick

is one of my favorite stock pickers. He has the kind of personality that translates into good entertainment. Which is why his

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column is one of my favorites.

My segment is next, and while it has a few nice things about it, it also suffers a few drawbacks. No. 1 is that

Adam Lashinsky

and I aren't in the same studio. More so than most, I need the interaction, but with Adam 3,000 miles away, I suspect something is lost.

In addition, I operate with no "return feed," as they say in the business. In short, I could see what the show looks like in a monitor adjacent to the camera, but I find that distracting, and have the studio folks turn it off.

However that forces me to do my portion entirely from memory, while hearing only

Brenda Buttner's

and Adam's voices in my ear. So, when it looks like I've lost my train of thought, or am completely out of it -- well, I am.

Adam, on the other hand, is probably the perfect foil for me. He's obviously a sharp guy, and is always prepared. And trust me, he doesn't like to be wrong -- long- or short-term -- any more than this trader! So, we're nice to each other, but neither of us wants to give up any ground. And, that's how it should be.

Still, the segment does feel a bit rushed. Talk about glossing over some knotty stuff -- I barely have time to mention an ascending triangle, for example, let alone talk about why it's important.

On the other hand, how much of an audience is there for TA anyway, and would we start to lose everyone else if we went even a minute longer? Maybe.

The bottom line? I'm thrilled to be talking about TA for even a minute on TV. And Adam and I do our best to make it volatile, funny and entertaining. But that's a lot to manage in different studios and in a short time frame, and I'm not sure we always pull it off as well as we'd like.

The last segment, "Word on TheStreet," is really my favorite. The secret weapon here:

Dave Kansas

. When I first met Dave, I assumed he was older than I. Not in looks, by the way, but in seasoning. There's something very deep, very honest, but very funny about the guy that makes him shine in that last segment.

It's also a chance for Herb and Jim to stretch out a bit, react to each other and talk like they would at a cocktail party. If anything needs to be expanded, it's probably that area as we seem to get the "real deal" from each of the players. A few other thoughts. I haven't mentioned Brenda a lot, but here's the bottom line: if

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TV doesn't have Brenda, there's no show. Period. Everyone else? Probably replaceable. Brenda's role, though? You need someone extremely sharp, extremely well prepared, who can not only play traffic cop, but who can interact where necessary to move the show along, or slow it down. She doesn't know what anyone's going to say, but she has to listen to everything and react instantly. All without losing her cool.

Frankly, that combination of talent is not something easily found. In my mind, she's the

Joe DiMaggio

of the show. She makes it look so easy, belying a very deep reservoir of professionalism. Flat out, she's the best and makes

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TV as good as it is.

In the area of graphics, music, the set and other things? They're largely a matter of taste, I guess. Yes, certain elements can be overwhelming, but remember, the show is trying to attract attention and an audience -- not put folks to sleep or pretend to be something it's not.

And finally, on the subject of the show's overall time. Many viewers feel it's too short. But, I had a chat about that with Fred Barnes, who co-hosts

Fox News'

show

The Beltway Boys

, and with whom I share the green room with on Friday nights.

Fred has often thought about expanding his show also, but always comes to the same conclusion: In a half-hour, he and Mort Kondracke can come across as sharp, witty and informative. But stretch the show out to an hour, and there just might not be enough of that "good stuff" to go around. He thinks the key is to leave the audience wanting more, not less. And that's probably where

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TV is right now.

Gary B. Smith is a freelance writer who trades for his own account from his Maryland home using technical analysis. At time of publication, he held no positions in any securities mentioned in this column, although holdings can change at any time. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks. Smith writes five technical analysis columns for TheStreet.com each week, including Technician's Take, Charted Territory and TSC Technical Forum. While he cannot provide investment advice or recommendations, he welcomes your feedback at

gbsmith@attglobal.net.