Review: 'Inside Edition' Season 34 Premiere

Post by: Rick Ellis 13 September, 2021

There are some syndicated television shows that creatively most closely resemble zombies. They exist, they move around and make noise. But they are essentially dead men walking and while they obviously still retain enough viewers to stay on the air, they are entirely off the radar for most viewers.

While I appreciate the history of Inside Edition, I have to admit to being a bit surprised it is still on the air after thirty-four years. There was a time (back in the Bill O'Reilly years) when the show's mx of crime stories and outrage about pop culture issues made it an essential show for viewers who liked their news programs a bit tawdry and controversial. But in 2021, watching the show is a sad and tired experience. Much like watching Madonna's occasional efforts to be "controversial." Instead, it just reminds you that she's now an old woman who couldn't find a new pop culture trend with a tracking dog and a team of detectives.

Deborah Norville has hosted the show since 1995 and as they tease the episode's stories at the top of the half-hour, I'm struck by how many of the pieces are based around some piece of viral video from social media. They are all things I have already seen in a dozen places. But I'm guessing this means Inside Edition is in part a show for people who like viral video but don't spend a lot of time on social media?

The opening story centers on a 22-year-old woman named Gabby who disappeared following a cross-country road trip with her boyfriend. According to allegations, he returned with her camper, but refuses to tell anyone what might have happened to his now-missing girlfriend. There are interviews with her justifiably concerned parents and while the segment doesn't provide much else in the way of details, this true crime tale is the hallmark of Inside Edition.

Next up is a follow-up story about "Gator Girl," an alligator trainer who was mauled by an alligator in an attack that was caught on video and became a viral story a few months ago. The show has an "exclusive" follow-up, which is really just a quick interview with the woman. As it turns out, the alligator's nickname was "Darth Gator," and if the training facility isn't selling t-shirts with that name on them, they are guilty of marketing malpractice. But the interview itself is pretty bland. She is excited to get back to her job, these things can happen, etc., etc.

Segment three is a vapid mashup of video clips that begins with some scenes from the MTV Video Music Awards, before jumping around from everything from the U.S. Open to the the annual lighting of the spotlights at the spot where the Twin Towers once stood. I think the point was to show that New York City has opened back up although it could just all have been an excuse to include a bunch of random celebrity stories that happened to take place in the same city. The segment felt more like a rejected Entertainment Tonight piece than anything useful. But it's also a reminder that I am not the target audience for this type of show. Although to be honest, who is?

The centerpiece of the episode is an interview with the security expert who was tasked with keeping the now-convicted Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin safe during his trial. Not a lot of surprises in the segment. Yes, there were death threats, the security detail wore bulletproof vests, yada, yada. Then an extended segment on the cat who fell from the balcony at a University of Florida game, which is used as the entry point to show some college football highlights from the weekend. 

Then it's back to Inside Edition's true crime sweet spot with the story of two 14-year-old Florida boys who were arrested for allegedly plotting a Columbine-type shooting at their middle school. Not surprisingly, in an interview with one of the boy's parents, they are convinced he would never have committed a crime.

The episode ends with a couple of random pop-culture stories, with much of the video drawn from social media. Britney Spears announced her engagement and a  mascot dance-off.

Then one of the longest half-hours of my life was over and I remain flummoxed by the audience for this show. Obviously there are enough people watching Inside Edition to keep it on the air. But who are these people who like a mix of true crime stories with no memorable details and pop culture stories that are 24 hours past their prime?

Now THAT is an inside story I'd be interested in seeing.

Inside Edition is a syndicated half-hour series that runs Monday-Friday on local stations across the country.

Last modified on Tuesday, 14 September 2021 09:33