Television's long and storied history is filled with game and competition shows that pit their contestants in a physical, psychological and gastrointestinal showdown, most of which were lost to the ravages of obscurity. Well, it's "filled" if you only look at the last few years or so when the economy tanked and people turned to humiliating themselves in the national media to keep from having to hunt small rodents for sustenance. That's how 'The View' got started.
These are the shows that not only tortured contestants, but also their viewing audience unless Dick Cheney happened to be watching any of them.
With more than 100 million viewers set to tune in, some are too lazy, too stuffed with party food or (let's face it) too drunk to change the channel. So, they'll stick around for whatever comes on after the final whistle. This year, it's
The new pilot is a stealth reality show -- looking to combine the cheap, easy ingredients of interoffice drama, humor and shock reveals. The title is self-explanatory, but the premise takes a large company and sends its CEO in as an average employee. As that CEO mixes and mingles with his fellow employees, he gets to see what their days are like, whether they enjoy their jobs, etc.
The reality show features choirmaster Gareth Malone (right) as he attempts to forge a top-notch choir in England's cash-strapped schools and underprivileged neighborhoods. The 13-episode series will run this coming spring on BBC America.
So, Malone showed up in Pasadena this weekend to promote the show to the assembled TCA throng. After the standard clips and Q&A were winding down, Malone ducked out of the quick and easy farewell and invited the reporters to come up on stage and form their own flash choir.
When I heard that Steven Seagal had a new A&E series coming out called Steven Seagal: Lawman, I thought, oh great, another cop show starring an aging movie star. But that's not what it is at all! Ok, I'll qualify that. Yes, it IS a cop show starring an aging movie star, but probably not what you think.
Turns out that Steven Seagal, best known for his action movies like Above the Law, Hard to Kill, and Under Siege, has been quietly working under the radar for the past 20 years as a real-life deputy with the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office in Louisiana. Part of his duties there include instructing the other officers on weapons skills and martial arts.
Even though the show has been on forever, I still enjoy my weekly dose of the new South Parks. But lately, they seem to be running out of targets or have narrowed their focus too much on one particular evil: reality television.
The season opener featured a rather nasty swipe at Disney's Jonas Brothers. The recent "Dead Celebrities" chortle-fest took a much needed pot shot at Ghost Hunters, aka, "the gayest f#*$ing show on television." And last week launched an all out attack on Discovery's Whale Wars and Deadliest Catch, particularly against Whale Wars star Paul Watson.
The show has always been a bitch to write and making every episode a satirical masterpiece is impossible without suffering a full-on breakdown. But should the show lay off reality TV and take some bolder shots at reality, which as we all know are two completely different things?
Kirstie Alley will join the network's neverending list of celebrity reality shows. This one will focus on her neverending battle with weight loss as she raises her kids. The network has ordered 10 episodes of the new series.
In other words, it's every other family-related reality show you've ever seen except this one will star Kirstie Alley.
Scott Messick, the reality show guru behind Shaq Vs., Pros vs. Joes and Ty Murray's Celebrity Bull Riding Challenge, has purchased the TV rights to make a reality show or reality shows around Lego.
Just imagine the possibilities! For one show, a team of builders would have to build something massive in a certain amount of time in order to win a prize. For another show, another team of builders would have to build something massive in a certain amount of time in order to win another prize. If the show was picked up by CMT, the team of builders would have to wear cowboy hats the whole time.
They've heard us, which is why The History Channel is bringing us more reality, starting with a spi-off of the aforementioned Truckers. Extreme Trucking will travel the world looking for the most treacherous roadways anywhere, and the brave men and women who drive them.
We can also look forward to traveling the US with Pickers, as people hunt for rare artifacts. And we'll get down and dirty with a 61-year old feud at a North Carolina NASCAR track with Madhouse. Even more unusual is Sliced, a series where objects are cut in half so we can see what they look like. Hey, if they cut a tree in half we can look at the history of it!
On American Idol, we often hear that the more insulting advice from the judges is a form of tough love, and in some cases, they have a point. Some people think they can sing and just can't, and need to be told. And there are similar scenes on So You Think You Can Dance, and similarly, some people stomp off convinced that they are "it" instead of, well, something that rhymes.
But So You Think You Can Dance is much more up front and even aggressive about telling people how they can grow. The system is better - if you show promise but the judges aren't sure, you go to the "choreography" phase and you are shown fairly empirically what your faults are, and most contestants seem happy for the knowledge, and many of them do come back.
And yet 45 minutes of TV viewing later, I'm not even feeling the need to break the protective glass. On the surface, it appears to be just another reality/game show with typical contestants having their ids scared for life for cash and/or prizes and most of it is just that.
And even though it met those stereotypical expectations, I still didn't hate it. Part of me actually kind of (gulp) enjoyed it. Did I just swallow my brains along with my pride?
So it's a surprise to me that there are two reality shows I actually do enjoy. There is The Amazing Race on CBS, which is currently in between seasons, and So You Think You Can Dance, which is in the beginning third on Fox. Generally, I don't feel stupid watching these two shows. I don't feel like I'm wasting my time. In fact, every once in a while, I feel like I'm learning something.
It's not a show about nothing, but Jerry Seinfeld is coming back to your TV set. This time, he's exec producing an NBC reality series about marriage problems. Only it's not a drama, it's a comedy.
The Marriage Ref will feature celebrities, comedians and sports stars offering their advice to real-life couples in the midst of marital woes. Oh good grief, there's so much wrong with this concept. Where to begin ...
First of all, I'd like nothing more than to see Jerry Seinfeld on my TV again. But after being so successful in the sit-com arena, why for the love of God would he even think about stooping so low as to helm a reality series.
Second, marriage problems aren't funny. Sure, we laughed at Lucy and Ricky's squabbles and Ralph threatening Alice with "to the moon!" But these were situation comedies, not reality shows.
Mark Burnett has struck a deal that will let people produce their own audition tapes.
Burnett signed a deal with Studio One Media to supply high traffic areas with self-serve kiosks that let people put together their own tapes for a measly twenty bucks. They can also provide a web-based service that lets contestants upload their own videos.
But, here you have it: Bravo has picked up an art competition reality show from Parker's Pretty Matches production company and producers Magical Elves. They're expected to announce the deal today at the Television Critics Association press tour, so Joel might have more info on this later.
The hour-long show is described by Elves' Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz as a Project Runway-style competition, only with art instead of fashion. Aspiring artists compete to produce various styles of artwork, including painting, sculpting, etc., which is then judged by a panel of experts.
Since the early days of TV Squad, we've covered realty programming in some capacity; we published news, episode reviews and commentary on whatever had viewers talking. I think back then we were covering Survivor, American Idol and perhaps The Amazing Race. We had a decent balance of reality and non-reality posts, and everyone seemed happy.
As the years went on, that balance shifted. The reality shows we were covering were only increasing in popularity, and more shows came in to ride the wave. As we sat back and watched some of the newer shows break onto the scene with little posting from us, the readers demanded our take. The monstrosity of Reality TV was something we couldn't ignore, so we provided.
Then we reached the breaking point.
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