Tribeca 2017: Mike and the Mad Dog
For nearly twenty years, Mike Francesa and Chris "Mad Dog" Russo were the gold standard in sports talk radio. The New York natives butted heads and laughed their way to making WFAN, a quickly failing all-sports all-the-time network in desperate need of some real personality, into the most popular station in the Big Apple. Director Daniel H. Forer (Second Chance Season) tells the story of the two legends using pristine video archives of the show and new interviews with journalists, former callers, and people in positions of power such as CEOs and General Managers who were all inspired by the duo's rants.
The doc has the sleek style found among many of the offering's in ESPN's 30 for 30 series, it won't challenge or surprise you in any way, but it succeeds as fuel if you have fond memories of the turbulent duo. It's also a decent introduction, I had never actually listened to the two before but as soon as I heard them I felt like I had because of the hundreds of sports radio shock jocks around the country that have ripped off their style. Mike and the Mad Dog's story is fairly interesting (forced to work together, formed an unlikely bond even though apprehensive at first, becoming good friends, and ultimately falling apart) but it's not enough to sustain an entire full length doc, thankfully it comes in just under an hour, a fun enough little diversion.
In the final 20 minutes an attempt is made to show the dark side of the relationship, even briefly touching on a controversy about some racist comments made immediately following 9/11. These aspects are the most interesting of the whole experience, but are only given merely a passing mention. These darker parts are given short shrift in favor of making the film little more than a light amusing time, and that's just fine.