Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Capsule Review Cavalcade: Reality Remix

Ever since “Survivor” made reality TV a household word, there have been countless reality shows at all times of year on all types of channels and networks. What I intend to give capsule reviews of here are those shows that aren’t competitions, shows that don’t document a celebrity. Basically anything that stands alone as a half hour. I may include something you don’t call a reality show, to which I say – eh, screw you pal. “Fear Factor” is pretty clearly a game show with reality trappings, so how smart are you anyway? Enough yelling at you Mr. or Ms. Reader, I apologize.

The format here will be the same as any other capsule attempt – short blurbs about each followed by the usual out of five score.

Airline; A&E
I was first introduced to this show in my Business Law class in an attempt to show what laws apply to airplane passengers. I didn’t mind the show replacing my lecture not only because the lectures blew, but because the show was entertaining. Once I took to watching it at home though, I found all the same devices that were in my little preview. There’s a passenger who is clearly intoxicated who won’t be cleared for board, all of that. If you’ve never seen it, the show depicts a couple airports throughout the country where the passengers run in to all sorts of mess whilst the staff tries to remain calm in dealing with them.

"Airline" puts me to sleep most of the time. It’s got a real sleepy presentation and editing style. They don’t exactly rush to tell the story of Nanush who came from India only to find his carry-on bag was four pounds too heavy. Would’ve worked better as periodic hour long specials, where the repetition in the types of stories would have been better hidden. It’s cancelled now, but if you happen to catch a repeat, take Dr. Jason’s advice and wait several days before consuming again. **¾

Room Raiders; MTV
Fun little diversion where three guys or gals are put into a van together watching a potential mate dig through each person’s bedroom in an attempt to pick the best to take out on a date. Another show that should only be watched occasionally lest you tire of seeing a guy pick through a girl’s thongs, or a woman be disgusted at a guy’s porn stash. But it’s pretty interesting, especially when the guys on the van get that camaraderie going. The women on the van rarely get together and insult the Room Raider but the guys will stand up for one another and it makes for an interesting dynamic. Total low brow TV, but me likee. ***¾

Wife Swap; ABC
This is the show “Trading Spouses” was created to capitalize on. I’ve never watched that version of the idea, but this one is fun. Two families of ludicrously different values and ethics switch wives for two weeks. In week one, the new wifey has to try and fill the shoes of the departed by going through their routine. In week two they can force the family into any rule changes they want to better fit their lifestyle.

The obvious criticism is how phony this show is. Why would a family so defiantly not eat at the dinner table, and force the other family to do so when they swap? And why would family B be so offended at this notion? Substitute in different offending behaviors and you get into why “Wife Swap” is so phony. But it’s so campy and really, they could tell me it’s a sitcom and I’d still watch. A week doesn’t go by where a “plot point” isn’t played to perfection. The liberal non-office-job family will always get the other clan’s kids to quit sports and just loaf around, while the kids of the liberal family get forced into sports they actually like and continue to perform “after the swap.” Get used to “the swap” because the narrator uses it a lot on this show. If you can get over the overt fakeness of everything and just enjoy it as a play or something, you’ll find a lot to like here. ****¼

Next; MTV
From the same company that brings you “Date My Mom,” it’s “Next.” Five potential dates await their turn on a bus. One is called out to begin a “date” with a would-be mate. As soon as things go south they can call “Next” and bring out the next bachelor/bachelorette. The rejectee gets paid $1 for every minute the date lasted. If they actually decide they like someone (gasp!) they offer them the money or a second date.

Hokeyness abounds on this show. Every bus rider seemed to be supplied with a punny line to introduce themselves with. The “dates” are really, really bad. Sometimes you don’t know if you’re watching a dating show or “Super Sloppy Double Dare.” But like another hokey show, “Wife Swap,” if you can just enjoy it as a drama or something you’ll love it and laugh at loud. Just like “Room Raiders,” there’s a certain personality the bus takes on that makes the show a lot of fun, especially when the first person out of the gate has a two hour date, leaving four guys/gals with nothing to do.

Worth noting is the fact this show unabashedly does same sex editions. They’re perhaps some of the most entertaining versions of this show. Getting into the lesbian psyche by seeing them “Next” a dater in mere seconds was surreal. That’s also another fun thing – often you’ll see somebody “Nexted” in seconds because they put off the “Nexter” somehow. Like how this show creates its own verbs? ***¾

No comments: