So color me surprised to find I actually enjoyed the debut of 'Love in the Wild' last week and have mentally penciled episode two into my calendar this Wednesday (9PM ET/PT, CTV/NBC). The show definitely hearkens back to the era of 'Paradise Hotel' or 'Temptation Island' but manages to feel like a fresher take on the pretty-people-in-a-hot-tub genre. Basically, it's a blatant attempt to mix 'Survivor' with 'The Bachelor'. The result includes some of the best and worst elements of both of those shows.
The pluses include the gorgeous scenery shot by cinematographers, and a down-to-earth attitude to romance that better suits the wooing of relative strangers than Chris Harrison's constant carping about love. Here, feeling comfortable with someone, perhaps a bit smitten, even admitting you are attracted to them, isn't viewed as a commitment to marry, or even to accept a second date. On the other hand, the blandness of 'Bachelor' contestants is the casting model here, with all the attendant vanity and shallowness. At least there's a humor factor -- watching someone apply false eyelashes, then compete in a rafting race through a crocodile-infested river.
Maybe there's something to this combining of two reality shows to create something new. Well, new-ish. Here's my contribution:
'Project Runway' + 'Dr. Phil'
Fans have been complaining about the steady decline in quality of 'Project Runway' since it moved from Bravo to Lifetime. Since then, the focus seems to have shifted from design to personal drama. And who does personal drama better than Dr. Phil? Tim Gunn is clearly ready to move on to bigger and the better things, so let's have Dr. Phil take over as mentor to the increasingly fragile and delicate designers. Imagine the guidance he could have offered to Mondo as he struggled to tell his family the truth about his HIV status. I can just hear him now, telling some freaked out non-sewer to give themselves permission to use the serger machine.
'America's Next Top Model' + 'Survivor'
The next 'ANTM' is going to be an all-star edition, which has worked ratings wonders for other shows, but puts a final nail in the coffin of believability when it comes to the age of the competitors. Even the most optimistic viewers would have to admit that 33 is probably too old to start a career on the catwalk. It's time for Tyra to start looking for a new crop of young, skinny girls she can makeover and make crazy eyes at. Why not bring the ever-popular Boston Rob on as guest judge and casting agent? The guy has an eye for pretty, pliant young things who will do what they're told, and is 'ANTM' has taught me anything, its that an aspiring model has to be willing to do some really weird stuff to get hired.
'The Amazing Race' + 'My Super Sweet 16'
'TAR' is so predictable -- there are always a few teams that are just so nice and wonderful you can't help but root for them. Where's the challenge in that? I have a better idea: make up every team with an over-indulgent but self-centred parent and a fifteen-going-on-sixteen-year-old spoiled brat of child. Make the prizes and detours related to how big of a party the teen gets to have for their sixteenth. Let the hate begin.
'The Celebrity Apprentice' + '101 Ways to Leave a Game Show'
How much more eagerly would you await the firing at the end of an episode if you know there was a chance of seeing Gary Busey or Cyndi Lauper ejected not from a New York City taxi, but a water cannon or similar device? It really wouldn't matter if you liked the fired celeb or not, because the appeal of seeing even a class act like Marlee Maitlin whizzing downhill in a shopping cart is pretty high. The ultimate synergy would involve a special 'Wipeout' style exit for a particularly odious contestant. Even better -- get Trump to try the big red balls himself.
'What Not to Wear' + 'Keeping up with the Kardashians'
I used to love watching Clinton and Stacy save people from their own wardrobes, but after a few seasons, it all got a bit predictable. There are only so many practical bob haircuts and flattering wrap dresses you can hear about before you get bored. The problem is Clinton and Stacy are dressing regular people like teachers, office admins and publicists, with the imposed limits on potential outfits. I say set the 'What Not To Wear' crew loose on the Kardashians, who do ... whatever job they do and have those outrageous figures and all that hair. Then we'll see if Stacy London really can keep any client under control and just how high Clinton Kelly's eyebrows can be raised.
What would you combine for the ultimate reality experience?