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April 24, 2014

NYTVF: Pilot reviews, part six of six

by Richard Keller, posted Sep 9th 2007 11:55AM

Bill Dougherty, and his alter egoPenny Fizzlebottom, of Fabulous FlowersThe third annual New York Television Festival is now taking place in the Big Apple. As we did last year, we will review each of the pilots in competition there. This is the sixth and last set of those reviews.

We finally come down to the last set of shows to review -- those in the educational/reality category. Last year there were many more entries geared towards an all-ages audience. This year's entries are definitely more niched in what they cover.

In general, most of them had very good production values and touched on topics that certain audiences would enjoy. There was only one show that I just couldn't watch entirely, and another that made me question if it was a reality show at all. My thoughts on the five entries can be found after the jump. You can also review the entries on your own at MSN to see if I was right or wrong about these shows.

All images courtesy of the New York Television Festival

Fabulous Flowers Title CardFabulous Flowers

Asian-style flower arrangements, rolling tea leaves (and not for that, you hippie!), how to turn clay pots into flower arrangement containers, and everything you wanted to know about orchids. If these are topics that interest you, then Fabulous Flowers is the show you want to watch. For me the show just wasn't that interesting. Granted, I did watch a bit more attentively when the host, Bill Dougherty, did a how-to segment on how to take those clay pots and dishes around your house to make arrangement containers, but the rest of the stuff kind of put me to sleep.

The only thing that would make Flowers stand out from the rest of those HGTV-type shows is Penny Fizzlebottom, who is really Dougherty dressed in drag. The segment shown on the NYTVF entry wasn't that great; there was a lot of overacting and Penny just had the worst proper British accent that would drift in an out. However, with a little bit of work, this could be the thing that gets the show out of the festival and onto one of the cable networks.

On the set of The GauntletThe Gauntlet

This was the best entry on the DVD. And, how could it not be when it shows people cutting up huge blocks of ice with chain saws? Gauntlet is a game show where co-workers settle a score through competition. The winner receives a $500 prize. In this episode there were two contests. The first one was between two ice sculptors, who had to sculpt their own self-portraits into a block of ice. The second was between two Zamboni drivers. The object of their competition was to pass a series of skill tests while driving the huge ice-cleaning machines.

This is a show that could fit easily into a number of cable networks. I think of Spike, or one of the Discovery networks, or even, heaven help me, MTV. The host, Mike Duff, is cool and hip, but not to the point that it distracts from the competitions. As long as they keep the competitions interesting, and not begin to dwell into some boring occupations, this could be a winner.

Naren and Jacob of Happy HourThe Happy Hour

Naran and Jacob are what people call these days 'Bar-Chefs'. I just call them bartenders. Whatever they're called, the show takes these two Australians across the globe to see the sights and mix alcoholic beverages for the locals. In the NYTVF entry, Naran and Jacob head towards Rio de Janeiro. Along with taking in the local tourist attractions, they visit a number of clubs and eateries as well some of the local celebrities.

Wherever they go they bring along a big mixing stick and a cocktail shaker to make drinks. While in Rio they even tried to make a drink that included some of the local gas station's ethanol, which is made from sugar cane. Needless to say, the drink doesn't work out that well. All in all, while I found it to be a bit dull (the travelogue saved it for me) this would be a good niche show for Food Network or the Travel Channel.

The cast of I'm Sorry MelissaI'm Sorry Melissa

The only reality entry on the DVD. Or, was it? The concept here was that Wayne, who cheated on his girlfriend, was asking for cheating and break-up videos from other people. He was going to send all of those videos to his girlfriend, the titled Melissa, to show how much he loved her.

Maybe I was just tired, but the whole episode seemed very scripted to me. That includes the 'real-life' videos that came from other people. Hell, even the person who played Melissa was an actress. I don't like when scripted shows try to come off as reality programming (which is why I don't watch reality shows), and I was turned off by this one immediately. I didn't want to see Wayne and his pals hanging out and playing Risk. I wanted to see videos!

Cast of In Your BackyardIn Your Backyard.tv

Ah, public access television at its best. This was definitely the worst-produced entry on the DVD and one of the most confusing (even more confusing than Melissa). It starred two kids, their father, and their dogs. They were supposed to be RV'ing across America to show nature or something, but all they did was end up at their next door neighbors' house and at Long Island's Jones Beach. Plus, their father got wet all of the time.

Other than being a very New Yawk show (the family was from Nassau County in Long Island) it just jumped everywhere. They tried some comedy, some nature facts and some travel. I just couldn't keep it straight. It made my head hurt so much that I turned it off halfway into the show. Definitely not a keeper.

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