As some of you may know, a major influence on my views of film was the televised ramblings of Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert. When I was much younger I started watching PBS' Sneak Previews for the movie clips. After a short while, it became obvious to me that I was interested not only in the movies being featured but in the opinions of the two very opinionated hosts. It was a great primer and led me in the direction of filmmaking.
Now, I don't watch the current incarnation of the show all that much. Siskel passed away in 1999, and Ebert can no longer speak due to life-saving surgery. This leaves Siskel replacement Richard Roeper with guest hosts, which just isn't the same. The Siskel and Ebert dynamic was so great because it often became so heated (witness the Full Metal Jacket review for an example). Watching those two go at it was pretty dang entertaining, and a testament to their passion for movies.
The good news is that there is a new video archive of all the Siskel & Ebert (and Roeper) stuff from 1985 on up (the previous ten years didn't survive). There is some great video in there, but for me, it's all about walking down memory lane. The site is supposed to expand with previous video specials, and there is already one there that spotlights Martin Scorsese. All the videos have been bookended with new animation and a nice graphic depicting which thumb went in which direction.
This is a great idea, and hopefully we can see more shows of non-series television available for all those who want to see them. It's just another step closer to the VOD (video on demand) world that is inevitable. Very cool.