In the grand tradition of cleaning out one’s closets, here’s story of mine regarding reality TV that was published a few years back on the now defunct humor website, Haypenny. Ahhh, reality programming was so innocent back then. In fact, I think some of the programs listed are actual TV shows now. Didn’t I just see Fake Baboon Ass and House Demolition Challenge on The Learning Channel the other day…
The Unrelenting March of Reality TV Programming into the Infinite: A Preview of the 2004 Reality TV Lineup
Who Wants To Date My Dog’s Chew Toy?
NBC’s programming is going to the dogs in 2004- literally! In the network’s upcoming reality show, Who Wants to Date My Dog’s Chew Toy?, the Hanson family from Portland, Oregon wants to find the perfect match for their dog Sprinkles’ chew toy, a slightly mangled and foul smelling plastic fire hydrant that squeaks gleefully when squeezed. Two contestants will each have an opportunity to take the chew toy on a date, which is filmed by the show’s camera crew and watched lived by the Hanson family. Who will the chew toy pick? The handsome young CPA or the dark, sultry Armenian trapeze artist with the nervous stomach? Notoriously slow witted and unable to make a decision, the chew toy gazes blankly toward the heavens, where the desultory nature of this program will soon be revealed.
Contestants are placed in Dr. Sandra Manning’s waiting room, a dentist with a practice in Boston. The waiting room, uniformly bleak, is comprised of several potted ferns, an abundance of unflattering florescent light and instrumental versions of soft rock classics emanating from a speaker mounted on a corner wall. The participants are forced to wait for weeks for their appointments, reading extremely outdated copies of Good Housekeeping and Uber Sausage Monthly over and over. Eventually, one by one, they are dragged out of the waiting room-unconscious from the extreme boredom-by two burly gentlemen from the local Teamsters Union, leaving the winner, still conscious, to revel in their own unyielding glory. This one has a promising future indeed.
Who Wants To Marry Alexander Graham Bell?
Twenty beautiful women compete for the affections of Alexander Graham Bell, world renowned inventor of the telephone, and, to a lesser extent, the tomato powered alarm clock. Contestants engage in a series of rigorous and highly enticing competitions to win the affections of this obsessive celebrity. One woman removes the spleen of another only to replace it with a tapeworm. A former Miss Butter Queen from Wisconsin creates a diorama of the assassination of John F. Kennedy using nothing but discarded Popsicle sticks and a New York Times newspaper from the 1932. Alexander Graham Bell, unmoved by all of the attention, instead completes the invention he has been laboring over for many years, the nebulous Sensory Enlivening Unit™ and is duly carried off by a legion of pigeons, for which he, in the not too distant future, would be king.
Survivor Island: The Musical
Pioneering 80’s pop rock band Survivor is reunited, and subsequently placed on the Bikini Atoll in the Pacific. The band is made to perform, at gun point, every song in the Survivor catalogue in the style of musical theater, or be voted off the island by a panel of judges lead by revered Broadway star Bernadette Peters. Blisteringly dramatic renditions of “The Eye of the Tiger” and “The Search is Over” make this the musical theater/reunion/get-off-an-island-alive show everyone will want to see. In the weeks ahead the challenges become even greater when other 80’s pop rock bands including Journey, Foreigner and Loverboy are resurrected and dropped onto the island to compete with Survivor in a battle-royale that will end with the winning band mounting a revival of South Pacific, complete with ten warships hand carved from only the best pâté and 100 ostriches dressed in United States Navy dress attire. The search is over indeed.
Rich Little Search
This talent showcase is a behind the scenes look at the journey of people across America competing to eventually be crowed as The Best Impersonator of Rich Little Impersonating Someone Else. Several highlights include a man from Columbus, Ohio impersonating Rich Little impersonating the Pope, a woman from Trenton, New Jersey impersonating Rich Little impersonating a paper weight, and a chimpanzee named Henry, who lives at the San Diego Zoo, impersonating Rich Little impersonating the All Male London Vocal Choir doing their rendition of God Save the Queen. Hosted by Rich Little impersonating Dick Clark.
Wearing Gore Vidal Pants
Ordinary citizens are chosen at random to spend several glorious weeks wearing a selection of pants from the closet of famed historical novelist and actor Gore Vidal. Followed by a film crew, we watch as the participants gain intimate knowledge of what it’s like to live, day to day, in Gore Vidal’s pants. Highlights include a woman from Dallas, Texas, Sandy Brinkwater, spilling lemonade down the front of Gore Vidal’s Armani Collezioni Tan Stripe single-pleated pant at lunch, and then having to return to her office, only to be taunted by her co-workers for ‘peeing her pants’. Segments are inter-cut with acutely witty remarks by Gore Vidal direct from his study in Venice, Italy, as he sips warm brandy all the while wearing a filthy T-shirt and a pair of boxer shorts studded with bright red hearts. Delightful.
The Learning Channel
Fake Baboon Ass and House Demolition Challenge
Contestants strap plastic baboon asses around their real ones in a vigorous competition in which teams of four enter a stranger’s house, chosen at random, and completely demolish every room; tearing down drywall, setting fire to furniture and smashing any and all valuables into a fine dust. The plastic baboon asses light up when the teams complete certain tasks, and blink rapidly when they are running out of time. In addition, several well-dressed octogenarians of various temperaments and education award teams bonus points depending how ‘hip’ and ‘put together’ their attire is.
Project Make an Ironic Meta-film About the Making of the Making of a Film Within a Film That References Other Films and Pop Culture in General As if This is The First Time it Has Ever Been Done
Hollywood has had a long, glorious tradition of mounting many gala award shows celebrating its myth makers, as well as producing a cornucopia of fine films about the struggle to make movies. Now, La La Land once again strains its collective hairy arm patting itself on the back with this reality show hosted by noted annoying film geek, Quentin Tarantino. The winner of the contest, chosen from a submitted treatment of a proposed film, will be filmed making their meta-film about the making of the making of a film that is within a film…
Eisner and the Octopus
And finally, in perhaps the most endearing program of the 2004 reality TV line-up, Michael Eisner, CEO of Disney, buys a giant octopus and decides to keep it as a pet at his home in the Hollywood Hills. The show follows the zany antics of the lovable pair: Making bologna sandwiches at midnight, watching 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea in the media room and playing Marco Polo in the Olympic sized pool shaped like Mickey Mouse’s head. Tragically, this show’s undeniable promise will not be fully realized. Towards the end of the first episode the giant octopus inexplicably eats Eisner whole, and is then pursued down the Hollywood Hills by a gaggle of heavily armed and finely manicured police officers as it makes it way back to sea. Octopuses, Eisner should have realized, are invertebrates not to be trusted.