Reality Bites

You may not have noticed what with the all-out media blitz for Josh Thomas’ Please Like Me, but the ABC launched a few other comedy programs in the last few weeks. Press release time!

Reality TV is TV right now. Everything else is just making up the numbers. And yet, for all its cultural force, we barely discuss it. But that’s all about to change.

Join Tom Ballard and a panel of industry experts for a half-hour of sharp, cracking panel discussion where they’ll dissect the week in Reality TV, both home and abroad, share war stories and give us the low down on what really goes into making Reality TV.
Panellists for episode three are:

• Ryan “Fitzy” Fitzgerald – Former Big Brother housemate, host of The Recruit and co-host of Nova’s Breakfast show, Fitzy & Wippa;
• Marion Farrelly – Producer of Big Brother, Farmer Wants A Wife, and The Recruit;
• Andrew Shaw – TVNZ Commissioning Editor of everything from New Zealand’s Got Talent to Changing Rooms.

During episode three, Tom and the panel will:

• Round up some of the best moments from the past week in Reality TV in This Week In Reality. Shows include The Amazing Race, The Bachelor, The X-Factor and E!’s new cosmetic surgery offering Blotched;
• Take a look at the future of TV singing contests;
• Analyse one of Big Brothers best scenes during The Big Moment; and
• Play another round of Real or Fake.

Ending the show on a high note, Tom showcases The Final Three – a countdown of international Reality Gold.

Hey guys – forget all that chat you’ve been having about reality television at work and down the pub and at social gatherings and in the comments threads of recap posts and television forums and on social media; here comes the ABC to show you how it’s done.

Do we even need to tell you this is The Gruen Transfer does Reality TV? No “kinda” or ‘basically” qualifiers here either: this is exactly The Gruen Transfer on reality television right down to pointless audience cutaways, Tom Ballard’s hair and shitty jokes. Hey, everyone who ever thought any of the Gruen programs were intelligent, insightful looks at the media landscape: WRONG.

What Reality Check does do is make it extremely clear that the Gruen formula is nothing more than bundling a collection of wacky clips together then getting a bunch of “experts” to drain all the fun out of them. So on that level, Reality Bites is actually better than Gruen: because they’re still shopping around for “experts” and haven’t yet settled on a reliable yet Margaret-and-David level painful “opposites attract” duo, the guests aren’t yet grand masters when it comes to making sure all eyes remain firmly fixed on them. Which means for much of the show you can block them out and just enjoy the wacky clips.

Sure, this stuff is roughly on par with a time-filling segment on Hey Hey It’s Saturday – the glory days when Clive James would host this sort of thing are well behind us, thus proving the irreversible decline of Western Civilisation – but in theory crazy clips from stupid television shows are fine with us. Just ditch the panel, get someone actually off-the-cuff funny to host, and make sure at least 25 of the show’s 28 minutes is clips and you might have something watchable.

Yeah, like that’s going to happen.

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3 Comments

  • Ontos says:

    I watched the start of eps 1 and 3 but had to stop because it was too painful. Can you tell me if those short mystifying cuts to the audience when Tom makes a shit joke continue throughout the whole episode? They may as well cut in those establishing shots from Utopia.

  • Urinal Cake says:

    Ballard’s a good presenter (imo compared to Anderson etc) affable and has a decent rapport with the panelists. But his jokes were awful.

  • richard says:

    I watch The Soup. Joel McHale is funny, charming, and has good writers. Everything this crap show doesn’t

    Plus Joel is very happy to bite the hand that feeds, something that only Micallef is prepared to do

    So give me The Soup