Crazy as it sounds, Mike Tyson’s insanity is balanced with some actual humanity in Fox Sports Net’s two-hour edition of its signature series “Beyond the Glory.” Though overcooked with McG-like musicvid technique heretofore unused in the skein’s brief history, show’s look at the rise and tumble of a popular athlete has never been so detailed and direct. The fall-from-grace elements are all in place — with Tyson, certainly more so — and the added hour helps to itemize his poor choices to greater effect.
“Glory” hasn’t yet hit critical mass — its previous subjects include Dominique Wilkins, Chris Webber and Warren Moon — but Tyson’s tale should change the program’s course. Research has unearthed an unprecedented amount of footage and homevideo from the beleaguered champ’s days back in Catskill, N.Y., and as for the skein’s future, look for more hype — and more expectations — thrust upon the network circling something other than “The Best Damn Sports Show Period.”
Special inspects the prominent people in Tyson’s life, from father figure Cus D’Amato and trainer Kevin Rooney in the ring to Don King and business guru Jim Jacobs outside of it.
Feather in its cap, however, is an extensive interview with Robin Givens, who divorced the fighter in 1989 after a turbulent year encompassing, among other things, abuse, infidelity, an appearance on “20/20” and much talk that the marriage was a way for Givens to get rich quick.
Viewed as singular incidents, Tyson’s exploits have indeed been media magnets, from his stint in an Indiana prison after raping beauty pageant contestant Desiree Washington, to his seemingly impossible loss at the gloves of 45-1 shot Buster Douglas in a 1990 Tokyo bout, to Evander Holyfield’s ear. But the unraveling here, narrated by Ice-T, gives the events some context that soundbites have not been able to provide over the years. Why anyone ever expected Tyson to act civil and courteous is curious, considering the rough relationships he has cultivated since his Brooklyn childhood; but few of those relationships have received news coverage.
As for show’s execution, the episode can not be held up as the “Glory” prototype. There has been more time spent and more money invested in this chapter, with some of the resources going to production values that take away from the inherent rawness of sport and, especially, boxing. Most notable are the hacky slo-mo shots of Tyson and his beloved pigeons, with “symbolic” coverage of the birds almost embarrassingly novice.
Upcoming installments include profiles of New York Jets running back Curtis Martin, Florida State Seminoles coach Bobby Bowden and skateboard sage Tony Hawk.