Monday, May 16, 2011

NBC Studio Tour: The Good, Bad & Annoying

By the time the NBC Studio Tour was over, I felt like NBC should have paid me instead of me forking over $20 to them. After all, I had basically just paid for the privilege of listening to a 70-minute commercial.

But even before Mom, Dad and I went on the tour when they visited several weekends back, we knew it was going to be a crapshoot. We'd all heard from people who recommended the tour. But then we'd all read reviews warning us what a letdown it was.

We took a chance and booked our tickets. Truth be told, I was looking forward to it -- especially seeing the studio for Saturday Night Live, a notoriously difficult show to get tickets for.

The tour started with a 10-minute video on the history of NBC. It was vaguely interesting, but if the same thing would have been on TV at home, I would have flipped to a new channel. At least the stadium-style seats were comfy.

Then our two tour guides led our group of about 30 to a bank of elevators. What happened next left a bad taste in my mouth for the rest of the tour. One of the guides ushered Mom, Dad, me and about three other people into an elevator and then accidentally let the door shut before cramming another 10 people inside. The elevator went up, the doors opened, and, unsure of what to do, we piled out into the lobby. After waiting patiently for several minutes, an NBC staffer -- not one of our guides -- appeared and snippily asked how we got there without a page.

At nearly that precise moment, two elevator doors opened and the rest of our group and our two guides appeared. Then we got a tongue-lashing from not only the staffer, but also one of the guides, who chastised us for not holding the elevator doors open. I had plenty of things I wanted to say -- Did I just spend $20 to be sent back to afternoon preschool? -- but I bit my tongue and moved on.

The rest of the NBC Studio Tour was fine. We stood inside Brian Williams' Nightly News studio, got a peak at where Jimmy Fallon tapes Late Night and -- yes -- saw the Saturday Night Live set. It was smaller than what I imagined, but if I've learned anything from the handful of TV tapings I've seen, I shouldn't have been so surprised.

Unfortunately, no photos were allowed on the tour.

I can think of about a million better ways to spend an hour and $20 in New York City (mostly involving food), but the NBC Studio Tour was OK. When push comes to shove, I guess I'm glad I did it once. Nevertheless, when I left Rockefeller Center, I couldn't help thinking that NBC has quite a racket going.

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