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NYTVF: Reality pilots

by Brett Love, posted Sep 15th 2006 10:12AM
New York Television FestivalJoel had been checking out the New York Television Festival this week, and he sent along 5 pilots from the Reality category for me to take a look at. Apparently that's what you get for being the guy that reviews Dancing with the Stars...

Seriously though, I've watched a lot of reality TV, so I was looking forward to this collection. If you would like to play along at home, you can watch all of these pilots at MSN. Be warned though, it will require Windows, Internet Explorer, Media Player 10, and your left pinky toe to view them. That said, on with the show.

Sugar In Wartime4 Track Radar
They say: This independent music showcase highlights different bands and music scenes from around the globe. In this episode viewers are taken inside the indie rock scene of Los Angeles through interviews with five bands currently trying to establish themselves.

I say: 4 Track Radar is very good, and ready for cable right now. Not only could I see this on VH-1, MTV, or E!, but I would make a point to watch it. There is no host, we just see the bands talking about the ins and outs of being an independent musician right now in Los Angeles. The format works really well and holds your interest. They manage to cover a wide range of topics, including pay to play, indie vs major label, and how the internet is changing the marketing of the bands.

Of all the NYTVF pilots, this one is the most polished. All of the graphics are well done and they play a nice collection of songs from the bands in the background as the interviews run. And as that music plays, a bug in the upper corner of the screen lets you know just what you are listening to. Nice attention to detail given that most viewers are going to be experiencing these bands for the first time.

The bands include Fu Manchu, The Plebz, Something For Rockets, Run Run Run, and Sugar in Wartime. I have to say, all five of those are new to me, though I have heard of Fu Manchu. If you like the indie rock, all of them are worth checking out. My favorite of the bunch is Sugar In Wartime. If you're curious, check out their video on their myspace page.

And that is what I think makes 4 Track Radar work so well. While the interviews and the behind the scenes look at the music is interesting enough to watch for, you also are presented with new music to explore. That is always fun. This would be my pick to win top prize.

Love in 90 Days Boot CampLove In 90 Days Boot Camp
They say: The ultimate challenge for six women: find the love of your life in 90 days. Dr. Diana, the shows zany drill sergeant coach, guides the women through funny marches where they sound off about their problems, fear factor drills with strangers in the park, and the poignant sharing of their loveless eulogies.

I say: My hopes were high after 4 Track Radar, and were quickly dashed by Love In 90 Days. Now, admittedly, I am pretty much the exact opposite of a woman looking to find love in 90 days. Still, what I lack in desire for a hunky man, I make up for in knowing a bad tv show when I see it.

There really is a lot wrong here. From the amateurish production to the poorly conceived set up shots. At one point we have drill seargent Dr. D marching with the women, in fatigues, as they sing marching songs. To help move the women down the path to true love, Dr. D assigns them tasks. For example, she tells one woman to go interview her ex and ask him what it was that she did wrong. And then, when that leads to the two of them getting back together, Dr. D insists that now the girl must date three men at the same time.

I'm also not clear on just how real this reality is. Many of the scenes look far too contrived. That could be the result of not getting things on camera and asking for a re-enactment. But at times it almost feels like you are watching a spoof of a reality show. Someone had to write this. The fact that the credits show different names for some of the women, and the women who played them, doesn't do much to quell these queries.

I'm sure that there could be a good television show made based around a group of women trying to navigate the dating waters. Just as sure as I am that Love In 90 Days isn't that show.

On The BlockOn The Block
They say: Leanza Cornett visits communities around the country to meet homeowners looking to sell their houses at auction. Potential buyers are introduced individually and the tension mounts as the auctioneer conducts bidding for the house.

I say: This is a good concept that suffers from poor execution and casting. I could totally see it on TLC or HGTV. The show is hosted by Leanza Cornett, who you may remember from her work on Entertainment Tonight. She's solid, and I think would be a great fit for a show like this.

On the other hand, she is partnered with auctioneer George Collias. Quite simply, he's not a very likable guy. At various times he comes off as smug, pompous, condescending, or all three. My best recommendation for the show would be to find a new auctioneer. At one point in the show it actually works against them as he is short with a potential bidder who chooses to leave because of it. It turns out that the bidder is the richest person in town.

On The Block does score points for pulling in some talent. Half of anything over the reserve price of the auction is given to Habitat for Humanity. In their package for the charity they manage to get interviews with Dustin Hoffman and Michael Badalucco.

The auction itself leaves a little to be desired. Maybe I've spent too much time watching Spanky Assiter do his thing for Barret-Jackson, but George's performance is not exactly exciting. Rather than a back and forth between anxious bidders it turns into a kind of uncomfortable, antagonistic process.

Production values are also below par. This certainly doesn't have the polish of the normal HGTV fare. I thought there were some questionable choices with Cornett as well. Occasionally she pops up in a strange newscast looking shot to impart information to the viewer. Just her talking head against a solid background. I would much rather see her on site in different parts of the homes for these scenes. Not unlike what TLC did with Paige Davis as host of Trading Spaces. Overall, a good idea with potential, but needs some retooling.

On The SetOn The Set
They say: Guiding Light's Frank Dicopoulos goes behind the scenes at some of TVs best known shows to give viewers a glimpse at what goes into making television happen. Learn interesting things about the cast and crew and expect the unexpected.

I say: This would fit right in with the programming on the TV Guide channel. It really isn't appointment television, but if you stumble upon it while flipping channels there is some interesting stuff. Frank does a nice job as the host. He's very engaging and seems to be having a lot of fun with it. And being right there on the set guarantees access to lots of great guests. I know nothing about Guiding Light, but the tour of the set, and meeting the actors held my interest the whole way through.

I'm not sure how it's going to work out for Frank, given his day job, to be going around to all the different shows. I'd like to see this moving away from the soaps and getting behind the scenes of some of our favorite prime time programs, but I could see that coastal thing causing a problem. Still, a look behind the scenes is always fun for fans. I would actually set the VCR if Frank showed up on the set of Veronica Mars.

The whole production is put together really well and could go to television with just some minor tweaking with titles and such. Overall, solid effort, and worthy of consideration.

Poker NightPoker Night
They say: With a collection of his wise cracking buddies, actor/comedian Brad Sherwood hosts this in depth look at the world of competitive poker. The group recaps the news and stories from tournaments around the country while adding its own witty spin.

I say: My first reaction to the title was, 'Good grief, enough with the poker shows.' But Poker Night has a new angle that actually shows some promise. Rather than yet another show watching people play poker, here we have Brad Sherwood sitting down to talk about all things poker with a few of his friends. That might sound a little lame, but the friends in question include Brian Palermo, Ian Gomez, and Jonathan Magnum. All very funny guys, and they make for a fun show.

The show starts out with a rundown of results from recent poker tournaments and the bad beat of the week. This section could be taken out and the show wouldn't miss it, because I don't think most people are really that concerned with who won the tournaments, but it does offer the opportunity for some good one liners.

That's followed up by the Game of the Week where one of the guys teaches you the rules to a new game. This week, Neverland. It's a Jackson family based version of poker where Jackson's (Jacks) are wild, but they only get wild when they appear with minor cards, meaning 8 or younger. You see where this is going. It's a pretty funny bit that involves a dradle at one point.

There are also segments on how to throw your own poker night, an interview, the World Series of Poker, and viewer mail. In the end, the format of the segments doesn't really matter because this is about funny guys sitting around making jokes, and that works. This group is very good together.

Like 4 Track Radar, this one could go live on your cable right now. The production is slick with great graphics and it just has the feel of a finished product. I could see it on GSN, SpikeTV, or Comedy Central. Great pilot, and I only give it second place because I enjoyed 4 Track Radar so much.

Overall, I'm pretty impressed by the group of pilots from NYTVF. The final tally shows two shows that I would actually seek out to watch. Another show that I would probably watch if I happened upon it, and definitely watch if they were on the set of one of my favorite shows. One show that has a great concept but poor execution. And just one that I think has completely missed.

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Joel

See, I liked On The Block but hated On The Set. What are they going to do for episode two, show the boom operator, makeup artist, casting director, and costume designer for Days of our Lives? On The Block needed some help, but it's a show that would fit really well on HGTV. A little more on the house and a little less auction would do the trick. And, for some reason, I liked George.

September 15 2006 at 9:05 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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