In saying the one and only scheduled debate of our Democrat-on-Democrat U.S Senate contest was dark, I’m not talking about the rhetoric or the visions of the future.

I’m literally talking about TV picture.

The debate took place on the lovely hillside campus of Cal State Los Angeles, a place with many beautiful event spaces. But the way that the debate room was lit made me wondered if they’d booked a Halloween haunted house. The lighting was off. The room seemed too dark, and there were all kinds of strange and distracting shadows, created by the moderator and the candidates.

Then there were technical problems. The candidates couldn’t hear a taped question from a regular Californian. The audience on ABC7 could hear the moderator and technicians whispering to each other. And the sound was not aligned with picture; Sanchez and Harris’ moving lips didn’t quite match the sound. Maybe this will be the end of TV debates—the Internet feed of the debate on Youtube didn’t have this problem.

The candidates had their own malfunctions—particularly Loretta Sanchez. I want to like the congresswoman – she’s a Southern Californian like me, and she talks about the military, a subject that should be a bigger part of the conversation here.

But her manner of speaking is hard to follow. It’s sort of like haiku. A short phrase or word. “Diversity!” for example. Followed by a too-long pause. Followed by a blizzard of personal stories and non-sequiturs and inside-Congress chatter (she has a real passion for committee assignments) that so hard to follow that you give up. And she seemed incapable of not rambling on. The moderator had to advise her so many times, “Ms. Sanchez, your time has expired” that it became something of a running joke.

Harris was far better—coherent, to the point, easy to understand. But that doesn’t mean she was good. Marijuana users, who now stand at the center of our state politics, could have gotten high by taking a hit every time she threw out the slogan “Smart on Crime.” Which also was her book title. She has a Marco Rubio-esque habit of repeating talking points too often and too verbatim. And her agenda seemed narrow and state-focused; she seemed more than a little at sea in answering question about Russia.

And she talks too much about crime. Both candidates did, in fact. You might have thought they were running for police chief or LA County sheriff. Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid didn’t ever really come up—and those are the biggest things the federal government does, along with war.

There were meaningless attacks, of course. Harris hit Sanchez on her attendance record (Sanchez made Congressional committees and task forces sound so boring, that I certainly wouldn’t have blamed her for missing a few). Sanchez took a shot at Harris for protecting Trump University, despite the A.G.’s litigation against for-profit colleges. Neither Harris’ attendance or Trump University seemed worthy of so much attention, in a short debate for a U.S. Senate seat that lasted just 54 minutes.

Harris at least realized how ridiculous an exercise this was—she laughed and showed flashes of humor that made the debate tolerable. The rest of it was pretty incoherent. And it was unnecessary in a top two world. The stakes were low—California is going to have a liberal Democratic U.S. Senator, no matter what.

For long stretches, it felt like punishment, an insult to our state’s collective intelligence. Which is why there should be a second debate, in Northern California. It would be totally unfair if only Southern Californians had to suffer through one of these.