Reality recipe for disaster

You ever watched any US reality shows, such as Survivor, Big Brother, Fear Factor and the like? Scary shows, filled with a combination of very earnest people who really want to win and very sociopathic people who really want to win.

That’s why I know this show, Unanimous, is doomed from the beginning. I can see how it could be “compelling viewing”: lock up nine strangers in a nuclear bunker then tell them they’re not coming out until they’ve unanimously decided who should win $1.5 million. I can even see how it might work, if it were entirely filled with English people going

“No, after you.”

“No, no. After you. I’m rubbish and you’re so much better than me.”

But psychotic, ultra-competitive reality show Americans? The winner is going to be the last person left standing after everyone else has died of old age. Do you really want to commit yourself to watching 50 years’ worth of programming?

Eleventh Hour cancelled

Readers of my Eleventh Hour review can probably guess that I’m not too surprised by The Mirror’s news that the show’s been cancelled.

Despite some of the dodginess in the article’s information (Stewart didn’t come back to the UK just to appear in mainstream TV), I suspect that there’s an element of truth in both The Mirror’s reason (poor ratings) and Granada’s official reason (Patrick Stewart won’t be available for a second series).

I suspect also that the show’s complete pantness is the unstated third reason.

UPDATE: For those of you wanting to know about the US version of Eleventh Hour starring Rufus Sewell, I’m afraid it’s been cancelled, too, along with a whole load of other CBS shows.

24’s debt to those old Republic serials

Don’t believe that 24 is essentially Buck Rogers or King of the Rocket Man, given a new twist for television?

Well, in an effort to summarise 24 in a single sentence, I hit on this line, paraphrased from the glorious movie Flash Gordon. Tell me that it doesn’t hit the nail on the head exactly:

“Jack, I love you, but we only have 24 hours to save the Earth!”

See?

Jeff Goldblum angling for his own TV show

I like Jeff Goldblum. If my life were interesting enough to be turned into a movie, he’s the actor I’d like to play me. But a Medium/Ghost Whisperer cop show knock-off? I wouldn’t watch that without a very, very good reason. Jeff, you can do a lot better than that.

Incidentally, the SciFi Channel should probably try running its headlines past a proofreader. At the moment, poor old Jeff is coming across like an Austin Powers villain.

Pub Landlord gets his own US show

Al Murray’s travelling across the Atlantic to star in his own comedy pilot Union Jackass for Fox, according to Variety. He’s basically going to play the Pub Landlord again, but this time relocated to Santa Monica as he follows his ex-wife and son.

It could be good. It could be bad. Murray’s Landlord-based shows have never quite matched the wit of his stand-up performance, which relies a lot on the audience knowing the unwritten rules of pub culture and laughing as they’re actually spelt out by someone. The Landlord’s bigotry runs a risk of either being watered down or just being offensive in a US setting.

It’s clear, also, that this isn’t really another British invasion – the only invasion of the US we’re mounting at the moment is a format invasion, in which the US just buys the ideas behind our programmes rather than the programmes themselves. Instead, this is really just Fox looking for a new Al Bundy or its own version of CBS’s King of Queens and the various other “beautiful wife, slobby working class husband” sitcoms that are in vogue (well, just passing vogue) at the moment.

There is another advantage to importing your fall guys. Is there anything quite as funny as laughing at the backwardness of other countries? You can enjoy the nastiness while simultaneously looking down on the uncivilised foreigner and pretending to be above it all. That, after all, is one of the reasons for the success of Borat, Sacha Baron Cohen’s other alter-ego.

Anyway, I’m sure it’s going to be interesting…