A Fond Farwell to At The Movies

My first episode of At The Movies was only a few years ago. It was at a time when I was just beginning to explore the expansive universe of film and my love of movies. It just so happened one night that I came across a show called At the Movies with Ebert and Roeper. Interested, I tuned in to see what the show was about. Unfortunately Roger Ebert was not present on the show at this point because of health reasons and was replaced by Michael Phillips. I instantly fell in love with the shows format. I fell in love with how smart and quick Roeper was and how Phillips was just as opinionated and passionate about whatever topic was in the balcony at that time. Pretty soon the show just became a weekly ritual.

I never got the opportunity to see Roger Ebert review a film from the comfort of my couch. This may go without saying, but I also never got to see the great Gene Siskel do so either. I may get to read there work or get to see clips on Youtube, but it just does not hold that same magic as only the entertainment business can do. I did, for a short period, get to see Roeper and Phillips go head to head, which was thrilling to me.

Then there came the inevitable time of change. The show gained two new host, the calm but strong mannered Ben Mankiewicz and new comer Ben Lyons. I was one of the few who stuck around to watch these two try to update the show. Was Lyons inexperienced and unqualified for the job? In my opinion yes, but Mankiewicz was a joy to listen to. I tuned in every week until things got too unorganized.

Somethings are better left the way they are. That is what the two new host who took over the “two Bens” positions understood. Returning to the show was Michael Phillips. The other host had been on the show before and I was pleased with the choice of A.O. Scott. The show felt the way it used to when I started watching, two people passionately discussing films, be it good or dreadful. But unfortunately the damage had been done and it was announced that the show would end after its twenty-fourth season of national syndication. That time has now come.

So, as Siskel would have asked, what do you know for sure? Well, I do know that without coming upon this show that one night, these words you are reading now would not exist. I know that the experiment that I now call The Morning Thunder Buffalo would have never crossed my mind. I know that I would still be wandering around aimlessly in college not knowing what I wanted to do with my life. And I know that At the Movies will still live on, even if it is only in pixellated clips on Youtube. There is even talks of the show making a return. So with a tear in my eye and two thumbs held high I say farewell to At the Movies, even if it turns out to be momentary.


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