Friday, April 08, 2005
"Reality" TV updates
The photogenic folks above are, of course, the cast who set out on the current edition of The Amazing Race. The Emmy-winning Race is the “reality” TV competition that works best. Maybe it’s the exotic locales…maybe it’s the relatively diverse cast of characters (“relatively” because “type A’s”, whiny drama queens, and masters of the snarky comment dominate the racers…easygoing, well-adjusted folks apparently do not make for interesting reality TV)…maybe it’s the way the natives react (usually with a mixture of puzzlement and bemusement) to the activities of the hyperactive Americans…whatever it is, it just works.
And, of course, it works especially when the combination of bad behavior (a large percentage of the racers will, at one point or another, exhibit “ugly American” reactions to some of the countries they visit with special irritation often reserved for the fact that the natives have to temerity not to speak English) and good editing creates “villains” for viewers to root against.
This edition of the Race upped the ante a bit by including two-time “Survivors” Rob and Amber…who seem to have decided to make “reality” TV their new careers (I fully expect them to show up on Fear Factor or whatever other show will help them in their “15 minute”-extending attempt to hang on to their semi-celebrity)…which has irked a fair number of their fellow contestants.
Speaking of Survivor, the current edition has not featured even one really interesting personality. But that is somewhat offset by the fact that it does (or rather did) feature the most inept “tribe” in the history of the show (and given some of the dim bulbs who have been paraded through tribal councils over the seasons, that’s saying something.) The total meltdown of the Ulong “tribe” has been a somewhat interesting (in a morbid, eye-rolling way) process to watch and now that they’ve been completely routed (down to one member as of this writing) one would hope that the boring Koror tribe will become more engaging now that they will have to start actively competing against one another.
Meanwhile, American Idol steamrolls along in the ratings while giving the viewers both more and less.
The regulars are supplying “more”: Ryan Seacrest is giving more humor-free and charisma-free hosting than ever while Randy Jackson is more inane than ever, Simon Cowell is more bored than ever, and Paula Abdul, after a promisingly tougher stance during the preliminaries, is more of a “I love everything and everybody” cheerleader than ever (which may be good for the egos of the young singers but not very helpful in helping them to develop as artists and performers.)
The contestants, to keep things balanced, are dutifully supplying “less”: again after promising preliminaries for a lot of them, the would-be Idols have almost consistently offered up just fair to middling performances thus far…there have been a scant few highlights and a number of lowlights but mostly it’s been blandly average (and certainly nothing that would move me to buy CDs or concert tickets)…with nary a star standing out (in previous seasons, folks with star potential had started to break away from the pack by this point in the competition…not so this time.)