Out of the most prominent duos that the American TV showed in 1982 (Sam and Diane of "Cheers", Laura Holt and Remington Steele of "Remington Steele", or Cagney & Lacey of "Cagney & Lacey"), still Siskel & Ebert are one of the most interesting, informative and droll duos ever been in a show, not in 1982 only but at all. Thanks for the miracle of internet that made me watch countless episodes of their show.
Gene Siskel, who began working for the Chicago Tribune in 1969, teamed up with Roger Ebert, the film reviewer of the Chicago Sun-Times, in 1975 to host a show which eventually became "Sneak Previews". In 1982, their new show, "At the Movies", was produced. Then after 4 years, its commercial version "Siskel & Ebert & the Movies" was made with just more lights in and around the show. Their duo, and not the show, ended with Siskel's death in 1999.
I felt that Siskel was the more charismatic and the less emotional. Ebert with his corpulent presence, baby face, big glasses, and the way he straightens his sitting before saying anything important-was more innate and close to a movies nerd who, at one moment, would suppress his anger with fading low tone.
When asked, on Johnny Carson's The Tonight Show, what he thought was the biggest difference between himself and Ebert, Siskel unhesitatingly replied: "I'm a better reviewer than he is." But a few moments later, he said that anyone who read a Roger Ebert review would read "an extremely well-written review". Thumps Down for that Gene. You should never have said it. This is no sagacity. And even if he was speaking what he thought the truth, then he should have left the viewers to say it, not him.
Some said that Siskel and Ebert's "dislike" for each other was well known in the industry. You can see clearly that it was a love/hate relationship. But I felt that Siskel was the bully one. And you can observe how he was starting it. From slightly provocative notices like "Yes, I agree with you, but you forgot that..", instead of "Yes, and I think also that..". To explicitly ugly ways to ruin Ebert's attempts to say something funny. And you'd never see Ebert using the same style with Siskel.
There are some of the 1980s outtakes, present on youtube, that touch off that where Siskel even curses Ebert, and begins - what seems as usual joking - a non-stop, running gags about Ebert's love of food. True that Ebert fought fire with fire perfectly, but that was mean to begin in the first place. They both refused to be guest star in movies or TV shows, unless the animated TV series "The Critic". I bet they accepted it just for one scene where they fight by bare hands in airplane to smash its door and continue fighting on the wing, not for the main plot about them being separated, then can't stand a partner else the other.
I liked the show's opening credits and format. For one reason, their setting in the empty theater somehow represented that they own the cinema, or that they're the viewers whom stay for more time, than the regular viewer, to discuss, debate, and evaluate. It's easy to notice the show's effect when you find the duo's famous remarks and expressions in numerous other reviews we read.
Richard Roeper, or Ebert's Chicago Sun-Times colleague, was a fine successor after Siskel's death. He's a bit childish, but that's a nice characteristic of all things (In fact, neither Ebert nor Siskel looked that young even in their thirties !). You can't decide was it a relationship where Roeper was the funny lead, and Ebert was the wise mentor ? Or that Ebert was the old lead, and Roeper was his sidekick ?! I think it was kind of a father/son relationship where both got the same intelligence. After Ebert left for his health problem, I kind of couldn't care less with what the show presents.
Sometimes it wasn't satisfying enough to review a movie in 3 minutes (half of them are for telling the story), but that's the show's specialty and time anyway. And I hated the matter of "I couldn't agree more" !!; there wasn't any drama there, and instead of disagreeing with one of them and agreeing with the other, you find yourself disagreeing with both of them there ! (Pulp Fiction, Titanic; I was mad not to see someone with me on these !).
These 2 buddies didn't have the attraction or the stardom of the leads of "Cheers", "Remington Steele","Cagney & Lacey", only their arguments, being more cultural, and believe it or not, more persistent too.