NEW YORK -- Here's a prediction: After watching a three-minute episode of CBS' new daily online show "MobLogic" -- the curtly bedazzling intro montage, the expertly concise man-on-the-street soundbites, the coquettish deadpan of host Lindsay Campbell -- you'll narrow your eyes, furrow your brow, and think, "Wait a minute: That was by the Tiffany network?"
True. With "MobLogic," the second show from the guys behind the financial-minded video blog "Wallstrip" (acquired last year by CBS for $4 million), CBS Interactive has delivered a visually compelling news and entertainment show with nary a trace of overproduction. Delivered daily via a bounty of Web media (iTunes downloads, YouTube embeds, HD podcasts, etc.), "MobLogic's" m.o. is mostly mob logic, i.e., man-on-the-street interviews. Host Campbell, also nee "Wallstrip," chats up midtown passers-by about a single daily news topic. She invokes, they emote.
The result is amusing, jaywalking-like juxtapositions, sans the imposition of hypertrophied chin. Take the episode about global warming, in which Campbell wades through a February snowstorm prompting pedestrians with, "There's no global warming, Al Gore's full of shit."
To which the interviewees respond variously, "It's not a myth"; "I don't know"; "I don't know, I'm cold"; and "Maybe God's having a party in the sky."
Campbell also is adroit with scripted narratives (snappily complemented by pop-up graphics), which she delivers in a playfully didactic manner. To wit, the segment on how Democrats lost their Florida delegates, presumably because the party chose to move up its primary. Campbell: "Well, guess what. Common knowledge is wrong. And by that I mean inaccurate. Misleading. See also: Horseshit." And then she explains why. How about that. Smart eye candy.
Despite this superlative production, "MobLogic's" flaw might be that it's simply another snarky news comedy show. Do we need man-on-the-street interviews in Manhattan, where the citizens are hardly representative of the general American populace? (To be fair, I hardly think man-in-the-Olive Garden interviews would be more enlightening.) The producers promote "MobLogic" as a catalyst for conversation, but don't we have enough conversationalists -- pundits, bloggers, critics -- and not enough investigative reporters?
These are honest questions, honestly asked. At least "MobLogic's" up front about their nonreporter chops. This is infotainment. Take note, ABC (which has experimented with its own quirky online news programming): This is how you build an online news show around an engaging personality. You step out of the way. You syndicate the content far and wide. And you convince your Web-savvy audience, Mephistopheles-like, that you don't exist. If only for three minutes at a time.