GRIM REAPERS: Mick Snyder and Jane McGarry love them some shock.
photography courtesy of NBC Channel 5
For 26 years, Ed Bark wrote about television for the Dallas Morning News. Beginning in 2000, he was gagged by his Belo masters from commenting on local newscasts. No longer. Since taking the buyout last fall, he’s turned his efforts to unclebarky.com and is more than willing to share with us his new year’s resolutions for the local 10 pm broadcasts:

Lower the volume and quit with the happy talk. WFAA Channel 8 anchor Gloria Campos should mute her wardrobe (one night in November, she looked fresh from a Mardi Gras float), cool those over-the-top news teases, and sit on the off-camera laugh track that’s activated whenever sports anchor Dale Hansen lays out a one-liner. Injecting a little personality into a newscast isn’t a capital offense. But did we need Hansen comparing weatherman Pete Delkus’ hair to a Chia pet’s? Actually that was kinda funny.

Give peace a chance. All of the stations traffic heavily in crime, but NBC Channel 5’s late show is shackled to a police scanner. It is a virtual combat zone of fear-factoring, the selling points a rapid-fire onslaught of tragedies, near-tragedies, and worst-case scenarios. Typical top-of-the-newscast welcome from anchor Mike Snyder: “A shadowy figure in your hallway. Would you know what to do?” Yes. Pay it no mind. We’re much safer, even in Dallas, than the station’s marauding band of street reporters would have us believe.

Watch Fox Channel 4. It’s not bad. Really. No longer selling flash and trash, the station’s 10 pm newscast ranks last in viewers but is otherwise first-rate. Its reporters do more digging into local stories of import. It shines when all the stations have the same news. Fox 4’s piece is almost always smarter and more thoroughly reported. Plus, veteran anchor Clarice Tinsley has modulated her once over-caffeinated delivery. She sounds—wow—almost stately.