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Podcast: Skip and Shannon: Undisputed
Network: FOX Sports
What Is It?: It’s an “unscripted, unfiltered, [and] undisputed” version of that day’s FS1 show, in audio form. It’s not the entire show because that would be worse than torture and a lobotomy combined. The podcast is a “best of” version that runs for about an hour.
Who’s The Host?: The polarizing Skip Bayless helms this “Embrace Debate” poster child, where he goes up against Pro Football Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe. Joy Taylor moderates, doing her best to keep the verbal war from escalating into an all-out fist fight.
What’s A Normal Episode Like?: Skip
repeats Tim Tebow’s name over and over again for the duration of the podcast argues his sweat out with Shannon. They go back and forth on each day’s biggest issues and also discuss them with a guest.
The show’s format is pretty simple. Taylor presents a topic and a question, then Bayless and Sharpe discuss said topic until they decide to move on. Unlike Pardon the Interruption, there’s no time limit here. The best way to describe Undisputed is as a re-skin of First Take on a new network.
That said, unlike First Take, Shannon Sharpe isn’t afraid to call out Bayless for being ridiculous. He – along with Taylor – gives the show some redeeming qualities.
I expected Sharpe to have bland takes that would allow Bayless to spend the entirety of every show in the spotlight. Instead, he makes the podcast palatable because he has fun and is well-researched. It’s a welcome change from the anger Bayless and Stephen A. Smith used to share on ESPN2. Now, it’s just one angry person.
Who Is It For?: Bayless spits hot takes like rap verses. If you’re subscribing to this podcast, you probably already like Skip’s schtick, and this is a great vehicle for the former ESPNer. It’s a show with Jamie Horowitz’s fingerprints all over it, for better or worse.
Who Is It Not For?: It’s a hyper-masculine debate show from a network desperate to cut into ESPN’s quasi-monopoly. If you want a smart, civil discussion of sports issues without any mention of Tim Tebow, you won’t find that here.
How Many Episodes Are There?: Undisputed debuted on Sept. 6. The TV show airs weekday mornings from 9:30-12 on FS1, while the podcast drops in the afternoon. It’s always on my phone in time for dinner.
Can I Jump Right In?: You can jump right in, but be ready for what you’ll be listening to. Buy some sunscreen so you don’t get burned!
What’s Not Great?: This isn’t an awful show. While Bayless says some unbelievable things, there are times he makes a little sense. The headline-grabbing statements make me sick listening to the show, but they’re also what makes Bayless so polarizing and popular. He’s going to rave about Tim Tebow and the Dallas Cowboys and doesn’t care if you agree with him. Before I considered reviewing this podcast, I watched/listened to see what the show would be like. It led to this tweet:
Yesterday, Skip said Jerry Jones focused too much on entertainment value instead of winning. Today, he picked the Cowboys to win the NFC.
— Alex Kaufman (@NSF_Alex) September 8, 2016
Honestly, that’s the only major issue. Considering his name is in the show’s title, I’m confident Bayless will be fulfilling this role until he keels over. While that will drive me away, it’ll drive a lot of fans to tune in.
On the other side of the table, Sharpe is pretty good. He’s easier on the ears than Stephen A. Smith and a lot better than the Sharpe I remember. I applauded the end of his tenure with The NFL Today, where I thought he was the worst analyst on the show. This isn’t that guy; he’s a lot more engaging and consistently makes solid points.
Taylor isn’t heard enough for her to influence anything, though I’m sure her opinions would be well-educated and smart. While I’d like to hear her talk more, she does everything she’s supposed to as a moderator on a show like this.
I’m extremely thankful this show isn’t Skip and Clay Travis: Undisputed. One ridiculous personality is easier to digest than two, but it’s still one too many for most.
So, Should I Listen To This?: If you’re a First Take fan who misses Bayless, you’ll get your Skip fix with this podcast. I find it painful to listen for more than a few minutes at a time, but I understand what the show is going for. Sharpe and Taylor are definite positives and upgrades compared to what Bayless was with at ESPN. That doesn’t mean they’re enough to make me keep listening to this show.
When it comes to Skip and Shannon: Undisputed, Skip is the one reason you’ll want to subscribe. For me, Skip is the one reason I won’t.
Bottom Line – TL;DR: If you are a fan of Skip Bayless and the “Embrace Debate” genre, you’ll enjoy this podcast. If you don’t check both of those boxes, don’t subscribe to Undisputed.