40 Hours of Television

The class is over, but the discussion continues. Does the media shape reality, or does reality shape the media? Art can imitate life...and life can imitate art. "40 Hours of TV" will explore the media and its impact on us all.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Imitation: the Highest Form of Flattery?

Oh, to answer Matt's question about cable vs. Satellite I'd say...I dunno, I can't afford either. I'd go with whatever gives you the best options about digital-quality programming, especially when it comes to HDTV if you're thinking in that direction.

Back to business. Remember when there were no reality shows on television? I know, it's hard to think of a time where there wasn't, but if you go back to the early 1990s, the only reality show was The Real World. The first series. Back then they didn't know what a reality show was, so the end result was something very interesting and watchable. Of course, reality television has "evolved" to where we are now, with your basic reality show template used for just about every reality show.

Since almost every conceivable occupation has been covered, the producers of reality shows are going to have to get really creative in coming up with the Next Big Thing.

NBC thought lawyers would make for a good reality show, which brought us The Law Firm, a show that lasted only two episodes before being slummed off to the Bravo network.

Something tells me we're not going to be seeing a lot of lawyer shows in the near future.

This fall we'll get two versions of The Apprentice, one starring Donald Trump, the other Martha Stewart. Other networks attempted The Apprentice format without success (The Benefactor, The Rebel Billionaire, and the hilarious My Big Fat Obnoxious Boss). We'll get one series on Wednesday and the other on Thursday. Is NBC overdoing it? Perhaps, considering how the ratings for the third installment of The Apprentice (school smarts vs. book smarts, which began just a couple of weeks after series two ended) were lower than in previous series.

Fox is messing around with it's American Idol format with a show about...dancing. Not only have I not watched it, but I'm even too lazy to look up its name for this posting.

In the 1970s, when Stephen King was writing under the pseudonym Richard Bachman, he wrote a story called The Running Man (which was made into an almost-good '80s flick starring Arnold Schwarzenegger). In Bachman's tale, reality game shows are all the rage, and the main character is participating in a show where he is on the run, followed by teams of bounty hunters out to kill him. Should he survive the 30 days on the run, he'll win a huge cash prize. And I wonder, is it realistic at all to think that in the coming decades, we'll have reality shows that actually feature the death of contestants? It may sound far-fetched...but who knows. It wouldn't surprise me at all.


Blogger Matt Wisner said...

I'm lucky to be getting cable much less a TV that is capable of HDTV, but it is a thought going into the process.

I agree, The Real World paved the way. However, the first two ,or three seasons were much better than the later ones. In those first seasons they really tried to get a good cross-section of society with a decent age variation.

I think both of the Apprentice shows will do well. They should keep leaving a good break in between though. One right after the other is a little overkill.

I think the dance show is called "So you think you can dance". I have watched it twice now, and they are making it intresting. The thing I like about it is that they are teaching them various styles of dance.

4:41 PM  
Anonymous Half Sigma said...

I have no desire ever to watch a show with Martha Stewart.

And regarding Apprentice clones in general, how much of it can you watch? I enjoyed the Apprentice, but I don't really think I want to watch hours of Apprentice-like programming each week.

And if you watch just one, you're going to want to watch the original.

12:21 PM  

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