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Archive for the ‘Unscripted Dramas’ Category

Preview: The Great American Dream Vote

Posted by Travis R Grant on March 27, 2007

Is Donny Osmond ready from prime time again? While he has done television, broadway, and other media productions. This is the first time in 20 plus years that Osmond will be starring in a prime time television show.

I was actually quite impressed at how well Osmond did on Pyramid. He was very well spoken, funny (though someone cliché), and rather enjoyable to watch.

As the Great American Dream Vote is more like a game show than a talk show, I would guess that Osmond will do well in this role. I am sure that he will bring is very natural charm to the screen and help the contestants and audience (both studio and broadcast audiences) feel at home.

However, I am not sure that this show will work. We often hear about the great American dream. As I was growing up I was always taught that this dream was home ownership. And I still think that it is.

However, we are dreaming bigger now. And this show is hoping to capitalize from our dreams.

Contestants in this show will tell America what their dream is. This can be anything from building a dance studio in your basement to starting up your own private business. The key is to convince America that your dream is better than the other contestants.

First, the studio audience will reduce the vote down to the two best contestants. Then America will decide who should have their dream fulfilled.

I often speak of celebrating the stories of ordinary people. This show starts with that premise and so there is a part of me that thinks it could be a great success. However, past experiments (like Three Wishes) with helping people fulfill their dreams have proven to be unsuccessful television shows.

While they often provide people with a great feeling about society and caring for others, these shows just aren’t as entertaining as one would hope they would be.

Also, I feel that the competition part of the show will have its problems. How am I going to choose between one person’s dreams and another’s? Sure some choices would be obvious, like voting for someone who wants fame and fortune versus someone who needs a home with wheelchair access for their disable child. But how do you choose between the wheelchair and the infertile couple? Or how do you choose between a pasture who wants to improve his church and a homeless shelter that needs more room?

Honestly, I wouldn’t mind if this show does well. It could be like chicken soup for the television soul. But I don’t hold out much hope.

Posted in Previews, Reality TV, Television, The Great American Vote, Unscripted Dramas | Leave a Comment »

The Haves and the Have-nots

Posted by Travis R Grant on March 19, 2007

It really isn’t too surprising that two Mark Burnett productions are following the same theme this season. Both the Apprentice and Survivor are splitting their teams up into the haves and the have-nots, if you will.

The interesting thing is that it seems that this format isn’t creating an insurmountable feat for the contestants on the Apprentice, while the Survivor have-nots (Ravu) can’t overcome their deprivation. This week’s episode of the Apprentice was a turn around for Arrow Corp. Both Arrow and Kinetic have spent their time in the tents (the have not situation).

However, on Survivor, the unfortunate Ravu team hasn’t won one challenge. They can’t seem to get beyond their problems.

This seems like a strange difference. At first glance one might think that this is an anomaly. That it is just pure fluke that Arrow Corp. was ever able to make it past the first hurdle.

So you have to take into consideration the level or extremity of the deprivation. When you get a better night sleep and have just a little more food, you are going to do better in challenges. When the only difference between competitors is comfort of your sleeping arrangements it could be easier for the deprived team to defeat the other team. You know that your situation is surmountable, so you go forward and overtake the situation.

However, I think it goes deeper than just the level of deprivation. Ravu is still not the worst team to have played the game. Based on number of losses in a row, I believe that Stephenie and Bobby Jon‘s team in Survivor Palau had the worst record in the game.

When you look at the four teams (okay, two of them are technically tribes), you realize that there are two things that makes the Ravu tribe different from the rest. These characteristics were the same for the losing team of Palau.

The first problem that Ravu has is no cohesion. The team doesn’t seem to work together. I get the strong feeling that they don’t like each other very much, and that they are just putting up with one another. The strongest connections on the team are probably Anthony and Earl. And even at that suggestion, I am wondering if that is true.

I believe that James (“Rocky”) is the person to blame for discontent on this team and I personally think he should be the one to go. But that just isn’t going to happen, he is too strong in many ways.

When you look at the other teams, there is cohesion. The Moto tribe has an alliance of five between Alex, Boo, Lisi, Stacy, and Edgardo. Arrow Corp. has a strong relationship between Tim, James, Frank and Nicole. And Kinetic Corp. has a strong bond between the women, but especially between Angela, Kristine, and Heidi.

The other reason that Ravu Tribe has suffered is because there is no leadership. None of the players are willing to put their necks on the line and take their tribe to the top. Perhaps this is because Sylvia spoiled the leader role in that she wasn’t a very good director of the tribe, nor was she a loved one.

People can overcome any situation. The have-nots in real life can over come. They need the strength to do so, but they also need good friends and good leadership. It’s a simple fact of life.

Posted in Reality TV, Survivor, Television, The Apprentice, TV, Unscripted Dramas | Leave a Comment »

Good-bye Rob and Amber

Posted by Travis R Grant on March 12, 2007

This is perhaps the best the Amazing Race All-stars episode so far. I liked this episode simply for one reason; Rob and Amber were eliminated.

I have to be completely honest and say that Rob and Amber are perhaps one of the five teams to play in the game. They perhaps deserved a win. However, I am glad that they didn’t

I never liked them as a team because of Rob. His comments during the race were very ego-centric and self-absorbed. He knew that many of the teams were focused on eliminating them. Knowing that is one thing, but Rob reveled in it. He loved that he was the center of attention.

For the first couple of episode Rob played a good game. But people can put on a good face when the cards are in their favor. However, when they get dealt a bad hand, that’s when their true colors come out.

As a brief related aside, let’s look at David and Mary for a second. When the cards were down for them, they still took the time to help out another team. While this is perhaps not the smartest move during a race, it is a testament to their character.

On the other hand, to openly try and hinder another team during the race is rude. Amber was so afraid that Charla and Mirna could beat them to the finish line that they lied to them for an advantage. They could have opted to keep their mouth shut, but instead they went for the deception in hopes of a win.

Under pressure, Rob and Amber’s real personality is revealed. There personalities vindicate my dislike for them. They aren’t nice people. Sure, they will always argue that’s it was only a game. But games are meant to be played with a little integrity. In this episode, Rob and Amber showed that have little integrity.

Rob and Amber are aces when life is in their favor, but when the cards are down they can’t handle the pressure. They aren’t beneath any action to win.

That is why I am so glad to say “Good-bye!” to them. I can’t foresee Rob manipulating himself onto another Reality TV show that I watch. I hope that the Television producers realize that the world has had enough of Rob.

I wish them the best of luck in their life ahead. I don’t wish them any harm. I am simply glad they won’t ever have to enter my home again.

Posted in All-star, Reality TV, TAR, Television, The Amazing Race, TV, Unscripted Dramas | Leave a Comment »

The Amazing Race: Some Teams Never Change

Posted by Travis R Grant on February 19, 2007

I am tired of Rob and Amber. Yes, they won the first leg of the race. However, did they do anything different than anyone else? Perhaps, they were nicer (in one instance) than some of the other teams. But they didn’t do anything different.

I am not one to say that competition-based reality TV is fixed. Perhaps, it is just that I don’t want it to be. However, I am starting to wonder. Rob and Amber dominated the race the first time they competed, and it looks like they will again. Is this the work of a producer to try and boost his viewer ratings?

I guess I will just have to be happy in my loving to hate Rob and Amber. I guess I could also be consoled that it appears that I am not the only one. You will notice that you didn’t see any of the other teams making friends with Rob and Amber. Well, David and Mary tried, but it looked like Rob and Amber just snubbed them.

The problem with the lack of friendliness by the other players toward Rob and Amber is that it will just fuel their fire, and keep them in the race. They need a friend or two to through them off of their game. Keep it up Mary and David; your down home, good natured attitude may just be the ruin of Rob and Amber. And the best part is that you aren’t being nice just so you can win.

I am even more upset by my favorite team, Kevin and Drew. They came in second to last. I hope that they can pull it together. It seems that they aren’t as entertaining as they were in the first race. I don’t know if it’s because they aren’t doing as well, or if they have just matured since their fraternity days.

I am still cheering for them to win (with a close second by David and Mary). However, after watching today, I don’t hold out much hope.

Mary and David are continuing to play a good honorable race. It is wonderful to see the star struck nature with the other players. David and Mary are truly down to earth folks, whom America will continue to love. They too are shying away from alliances which may or may not be good. However, I think that they will earn some good will that will prove helpful later on.

It is still early, and I am going to hold of on any predictions. However, I can say that this competition is going to be fierce. The teams are all holding off from making alliances. That is smart. Alliances do not win this game. That is perhaps the only thing that Rob and Amber do right in this game.

The Amazing Race is won on street smarts, book smarts, athleticism, and sometimes just dumb luck. Right now each of teams have interesting combinations of all of those. It will be a great season.

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Winter Preview: The Amazing Race – All Stars

Posted by Travis R Grant on January 20, 2007

The contestants for the All Star Edition of the Amazing Race have officially been posted. And for the most part, I am happy with the selections.

My number one pick for the All Stars was Kevin and Drew, and they made the cut. Trust me if you missed Season 1, then you are in for a real treat. These are a couple of frat brothers/friends that are funny, charming, and just all around good guys. I can’t wait to see them in action again.

On a less positive note, my number one pick to not be on the show is in the All Stars. Rob and Amber can’t seem to get enough of the spot light. Next thing you know, they will have a reality TV spot on the pregnancy and birth a new child (Before the rumor mill starts, no they aren’t pregnant, I am just speculating about the future). If it wasn’t for Kevin and Drew, I don’t think that I would even bother with the All Stars with Rob and Amber in it. Oh well, at least this is a couple that I love to hate. I hope that are out in the first round. (I just cursed myself, and now they will be in the final three, again.)

Obviously, I am excited to see David and Mary compete again. I suspect that they will team up with Charla and Mirna. Maybe this grouping will prove to be better. Charla and Mirna weren’t afraid to take any risks like Erwin and Godwin. However, I think their loyalty will be a lot more like Lyn and Karlyn. I was surprised that neither Charla nor Mirna tried and convince Phil Keoghan to leave his wife for her. I hope that both of these teams do well. But I wouldn’t be surprised to see them out early either.

Danny and Oswald got back on, and they were entertaining. I probably won’t be cheering for them much, but I won’t mind seeing them go far. Joyce and Uchenna will be okay to see again, but they have already won, so I won’t be cheering for them much, either.

I am not excited to see John Vito and Jill, Dustin and Kandice, or Eric and Danielle back in the race. I didn’t like them in their first races, and I doubt I will like them now. I guess Eric and Danielle are interesting because they are the Amazing Race’s first match up. But that too is still a yawner.

Regardless of what you think of each of the contestants, this looks to be a good season. Let’s hope it proves to be as successful as some of the other All Star Reality shows.

Posted in All-star, Previews, Reality TV, TAR, Television, The Amazing Race, TV, Unscripted Dramas, Winter Preview | 1 Comment »

Super Nanny Is Valuable Television

Posted by Travis R Grant on January 16, 2007

I remember, when I was working on my Master’s Degree at Kansas State University, I had thought that how it would be great to share some of the tools and information we learn about families through television. My original thought was through using a family sitcom, where good parenting practices are modeled.

While, I think that would have been an effective method for teaching appropriate parenting skills, I also think that ABC’s Super Nanny is doing a great job of accomplishing my dream. Jo Frost is a 16 year nanny veteran who on the show works with families whose children are out of control.

Actually, as you watch the show you will slowly learn that it isn’t the children who are out of control. Rather it is the parents who need to learn to take control.

One of the keys to this show is that it isn’t just that Frost shows up and provides some information on what the parents show do. Instead, Frost takes a day to just observe. I think that this is honestly one of the hardest parts for Frost. She wants to help these people immediately.

After a day of observation, she sits with the parents (or parent as the case sometimes is) to help them understand what they are doing wrong. This is where the parents get a taste of reality. For some it is the time when they realize that they are the problem and not the children.

Then Jo works with the family (mostly the parents) to get them under control. Some of the important things that I see her teaching is discipline, and stick to it. Don’t back down from disciplining children. This is the key to the now notorious “naughty chair.”

She has also taught the importance of a routine in young children’s lives. Children thrive on the known. They need to know that breakfast is coming. They need to know that they will get play time.

After at least a day, the family is then left to put the principles that they learned from Frost to work. This is the trial by fire that seems to be so important.

The key to this process though is that it isn’t over there. Frost will review some videos of the family after they visited with her. Then she meets with the parents again to help them rethink what they are doing wrong.

This second visit is key to the success of the efforts of Frost. In order for people to learn something, they need to have their performance on a new task reviewed. This review process shows that this program isn’t just about showing a bunch of unhappy families on the air.

My biggest concern is that there is a certain amount of exploitation of children. However, I think that this is a small price to pay for the greater good that it serves.

If you are having problems with you children, Watch this program and take good notes. You will be surprised at the changes it can make in your family. These changes won’t be over night, but over the course of weeks or months. Super Nanny is another great example of the good that television can really do.

Posted in Reality TV, Super Nanny, Television, TV, Unscripted Dramas | Leave a Comment »

Winter Preview: Armed and Famous

Posted by Travis R Grant on January 10, 2007

When I first saw it I couldn’t believe it. Are they seriously going to take five celebrities and train them to be cops? Okay, I could believe that. I couldn’t believe that the celebrities actually passed the training course. I also couldn’t believe that they would actually broadcast such drivel.

Armed and Famous trains five celebrities to be cops. Actually, I am not sure that half of these participant even qualify as celebrities, unless you want to go back 20 years. After their training they are taken out on the streets and enforce the laws of Muncie Indiana.

This show is being billed as a comedy. So here I am picturing Police Academy meets Dancing with the Stars. And trust me it is much worse than that. Now I have to admit, I don’t understand either of those shows. I really never watch Policy Academy, and I just can’t seem to stomach Dancing with the Stars.

However, If you like Dancing with the Stars, I think you will not like Armed and Famous. However if you like Police Academy you might find this show humorous.

Having watched the previews available at CBS, I have to say, that I am lost for the humor. Of the six short clips available online, there were only two partially funny moments. La Toya Jackson handling a fire arm was perhaps the funniest, but that in itself is more dangerous than funny. The second most funny was Erik Estrada passing wind while wrestling with a trainer. And I have never found flatulence jokes humorous.

While from an ethical perspective, this show has it’s problems. I honestly think that this show will flop because it just won’t be entertaining. From the get go Jason Acuña is told that he isn’t allowed to be a “jackass” on the show. So, automatically, you take away his ability to be funny. So much for the comedy aspect, that is if you call Acuña’s act funny.

Also, did Jack Osbourne manage to stay sober enough to do this show? Or did the trainers just let it slide? Okay, I know that he has sobered up since the Osbourne’s were on the air, and maybe I am taking unfair punches. But I am trying to point out, that this isn’t your typical police trainees. I will give Osbourne some credit and say that at least he knows how to handle I fire arm. I wish that I could shoot like that.

I won’t be watching Armed and Famous. And I doubt many in America will be either. This is Reality TV gone way wrong. Mostly because it has no entertainment value, but also because it just seems to be a slap in the face of ethics.

Posted in Armed and Famous, Comedy, Previews, Reality TV, Television, TV, Unscripted Dramas, Winter Preview | 2 Comments »

I Love When My Guy Wins

Posted by Travis R Grant on December 18, 2006

It is going to sound a little unbelievable when I write that I wanted Yul to win from the beginning. But I can honestly say that after the first couple of episodes of Survivor I was cheering for Yul.

Yul was honest with the Jury about his having manipulated people and that he was playing people both on and off of the jury. He said it perfectly. If it was outside of this game, HE would have interacted with the contestants differently. Everyone came to the game knowing what it was about, and they accepted that.

That is what won him the game.

Ozzy was a great contender. Ozzy would have deserved the win too. I would have been happy to see him play again; I look forward to seeing him on a future all-star episode.

While Yul admitted to playing with some less than stellar ethics, I still feel that they both play with integrity. They stayed true to their tribe. While, it sort of made for a boring finale, you still were excited to see them win, because in the face of trial they stood with their team.

CBS’s attempt to make the final tribal council more exciting by adding three people to be voted for was stupid. Even if it had been three different players (i.e., Adam, Parvati, and Candice), there would have only been two votes cast.

I was trying to figure out why they were having 9 members on the jury. I actually thought that maybe they were going to allow the final two contestant to eliminate two members from the Jury, without know what their vote would be. That way they might eliminate someone who would have voted for them, but they wouldn’t know.

However, they added two extra jurors because they were adding a third contestant. That was a dumb move. Of course one person was going to be a no vote. It did lead to the two best players getting to the end. But it really took out another important element of the game and that was staying true to your team. I really would have liked to see how Yul, Becky, and Ozzy played it out for final two.

I didn’t like this final tribal council. It really begged for a lot. However, I loved the season in general. But I always love the season when my favorite wins.

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James and Tyler Win the Amazing Race

Posted by Travis R Grant on December 11, 2006

Well, it was almost predictable. James and Tyler won The Amazing race. I say almost predictable, because honestly having watched the race, they were perhaps one of the worst teams to come out on top.

I was truly upset to see that Lyn and Karlyn really ended up with the bad luck of the draw. While perhaps they weren’t the best team. I feel that they put more into this race than any other team. More than James and Tyler; more than Erwin and Godwin; more than even David and Mary. For that I would have loved to see them win the race.

I guess the only saving aspect of the finale is that Rob and Kimberly did not win. Sorry, but I never really liked them. They weren’t as detestable and I thought before the race started, but they were likable either.

I also missed the layover aspect that they have had in past races. Usually, they send them to some place remote and have them spend the night in some cabin or a tent, before they do the final stretch. Not really a pit stop, but they have to stay there for at least 8 or 12 hours.

Also, this wasn’t a two hour finale. I missed that. I guess maybe the spent more time on episodes airs over the weeks, but I liked the 2 hour finale.

Is this a sign of the demise of The Amazing Race? I sure hope not. However, I think it might be a sign that this season just wasn’t as good. The players weren’t as interesting. David and Mary had America’s heart, but there really was not one to hate (maybe Peter and Sarah, but there weren’t like Jonathan and Victoria from Season 6).

So, the biggest news is that the next Amazing Race will be an All-Star episode. While there is much rumor on the Web about who will star in this episode. Here is my wish list for the All-Star Edition (these are listed in order of who I would pick first):

1 – Kevin and Drew – They made the first season. I don’t think I would be much of a fan of The Amazing Race if they hadn’t been in the first season.

2 – Chip and Kim – I loved them for all of season 5, and I still love them. If there has to be past winners (which I don’t agree with), then I want Chip and Kim back on the show.

3 – David and Mary – I know I will be in trouble for putting them as number 3 and not number 1 on my list, but I didn’t like them as much as the previous two. I would hope that they would do better this time around.

4 – BJ and Tyler – The is my second favorite of all the teams that I have won the race. They are a very close second.

5 – Ron and Kelly – They made it to the final three in Season 7, and I had hoped that they would go all the way. This would be a great chance for them to try again.

6 – David and Lori – I was honestly shocked at how well they did in Season 9. I just thought that they were a cute nerdy couple, that I could relate with. I would hope they did well this season too.

7 – Linda and Karen – Before Lyn and Karlyn this was the longest lasting all female team, and I would love to see them race again. If they weren’t chosen I would actually like to see Charla and Mirna race again.

8 – Millie and Chuck – They were great competitors, and I felt that they were good representatives of the Christian faith. I just hope that the production staff doesn’t over emphasize their 12-year virginity too much like they did in Season 4.

9 – Marion and DJ – I loved this unpopular family. I thought that although they argued a lot, they really loved each other, and that endeared me to them. Put the mom and oldest son on again, just to make it fun. If this mom and son duo doesn’t make it I wouldn’t mind seeing Gus and Hera on again, more because I like Gus, he just seemed genuine.

10 – Lori and Bolo – These two are kind of a wild card. I thought that they added some entertainment value that would be fun to watch again. However, I wouldn’t be too upset if they didn’t get on.

11 – Danny and Oswald You know they are going to choose at least one gay couple, and these two would have to be my favorite. But I won’t be cheering them on.

That’s my picks. I tried to get some from all past seasons, but season three just lacked in any body I wanted to see race again. Next is my list of people I don’t want to see race again (these are in order of least favorite):

1 – Rob and Amber – I hated them in survivor, I hated them in season 7. These are just two people who don’t need any more air time.

2 – Jonathan and Victoria – It’s so obvious, I don’t think I will even mention it.

3 – Peter and Sarah – Peter just bugged me, and Sarah didn’t have much redeeming value either. And you didn’t like to hate them either.

4 – Adam and Rebecca – Rebecca was fine, but Adam just needs to grow up.

5 – Marshall and Lance – The first team to quit the Amazing Race doesn’t deserve a second chance.

So, what are you thoughts on an All-Star edition of the Amazing Race? What are you thoughts on my picks? I am sure to agree with some, but why do you disagree on others?

Posted in All-star, Reality TV, TAR, Television, The Amazing Race, TV, Unscripted Dramas | Leave a Comment »

Survivor’s Jonathan Crazy or Genius?

Posted by Travis R Grant on December 1, 2006

If there is any player that reminds me more of Richard Hatch than any other player in Survivor history, it is Jonathan Penner. He has really mastered the ability to annoy his fellow contestants and yet manage to manipulate the game every week where he is not voted out.

Of course, he didn’t play exactly like Hatch. But he seems to be more in control of the game than people realize. He is very effectively outwitting, outplaying, and outlasting the other contestants.

In the past couple of weeks, Jonathan managed to switch to another tribe (they called it mutiny) and escape elimination during at least two tribal council’s where one would have thought that the mutiny would be grounds for getting rid of him.

Then when the tribes merge, Jonathan flops back to his original tribe, because he finds out that Yul Kwon has the individual immunity idol from exile island. You would think that this would further remove any trust from any of the other players.

This episode, Jonathan takes a very overly confident attitude where he managed to offend just about everyone on the island. This put a huge target on Jonathan’s back. However, I think this target is more inviting to Yul, and some other players because, they think his offense will win him the game.

I think they are wrong. If Jonathan makes it to the final two, then he will win. No matter whom he goes up against. In this game there is more respect for the outwitting than there is for outlasting or outplaying.

My prediction is that the final two will be Yul and Jonathan. However, I think it will be Yul’s mistake. If Yul picked anyone else accept for maybe Adam then he would win. Adam might have a chance against yul, because he has managed to outplay the other’s too.

Granted this is all based on the assumption that Yul wins the final immunity challenge. But I think he will probably do that too.

Honestly, survivor this season has been better than The Amazing Race. That is a hard thing for me to say. But it is the truth.

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