When there was enough interest to make a 24-hour broadcast channel devoted to the National Football League, there was some initial scoffing as to how feasible it might be, but it has grown and developed into a worthy complement to the League, airing rookie combines, has a solid stable of content from NFL Films and even airs a small serving of games late in the season. Now that there is a network devoted exclusively to Major League Baseball, the channel seems to be trying to solidify their own niche of programming for the baseball fan, and the easy way to do it seems to be generating content designed to spur discussion. Enter the Prime 9 series of episodes.
The idea behind these shows is simple enough: instead of Top 10 lists to discuss the best, greatest or most inspiring, to trim one off to 9, symbolizing the number of innings in a typical game. And on this disc there are nine episodes from the show's first season to help continue the symmetry. Among those discussion points on the disc are the nine best Home Runs, Comebacks, Pitching Seasons, Hitting Seasons, Plays at the Plate and Records that will Never Be Broken. Along with the list within each episode are some thoughts on each accomplishment, sometimes by a writer, other times by a former player.
However, the limitations of the program hurt it to a large degree. The episodes appear to fit within a half-hour broadcast window, running about 23 minutes (on average) in length. So while there is discussion about why a moment made the list, said discussion is brief, so putting the feat (or event) in its proper context is sorely lacking and at least with material like this, subject to large debate because the lists look subjective and almost random to some degree. And while programming like this is designed to generate discussion, in 23-minute installments the passion and emotion behind each accomplishment is lacking and makes for uninspired viewing.
It's that component that separates shows like the NFL Network's Top 100, along with the scores of shows ESPN produces that generate similar discussions. Though it's not in a good way. Prime 9 is really more hit and miss programming from the MLB network than anything else when in fact I could have these types of debates with my friends when I go to the bar. The difference being that I can drink and laugh more and not be exposed to so much Harold Reynolds.
All of the episodes are presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, presumably consistent with their original broadcast format. Some of the vintage film has been cropped to accommodate the aspect ratio, but when it comes to the film's condition, it looks fine and as viewable as it can be, without any flaws that weren't inherent to the older film that was used for the shows. It's a straightforward and accurate representation of what was aired and looks fine.
Dolby two-channel stereo for all episodes. Honestly, I didn't really expect all that much sonically from these things and that met my expectations. Everything occurs in the front channels with no panning, and the soundstage is limited but clear as can be.
The consumer is shown a no-hitter when it comes to bonus material.
Well, it is interesting to see Prime 9 cater to the purest notion of sports discussion in discussing what was better. The problem is that they need to flesh it out a little more and provide more context rather than just regurgitate a list of what is good for 'just because' reasoning. Technically the discs look and sound decent, but without any supplements, they feel little more than teasers for the episodes that air on the MLB network, so you're better off seeing them there rather than spending the money to rent a disc like this.