July 06, 2004

Summertime, and the viewin' is easy.

Ah, summertime TV in the reality show era. We used to have that huge drought between the time when all the shows had their season finales in May and their new season premieres in September, and summer TV meant repeats and sports. Maybe someone else can pinpoint in time better than I when that all changed, but my feeling is that we have Fox to thank for it. I seem to recall that they started initiating changes when they became a real player in network TV, like starting new shows in summer that weren't simply shows not good enough for the fall line-up and starting and ending seasons outside the normal times. It just became more and more common and now we're at the point where there is really a separate summer season, and it just so happens that the bulk of it is reality shows.

For me, tonight marked the start of when I actually look forward to TV again and get to indulge in those dual guilty pleasures of Big Brother and The Amazing Race, now in their fifth editions. To help enjoy Big Brother 5 (or "BB5") just that much more, we have big brother 5: the hampster cage from Ernie of Little.Yellow.Different. I do believe he actually means "hamster" but who am I to quibble with a biggie in the bloggy world?

BB5 pales in comparison to Amazing Race (or, as a friend and I call it, "Amazing Grace," due to a hearing lapse on my part way back when) in terms of enjoyment, but BB5 has the advantage of being on multiple times each week, which is nice when there's absolutely nothing else on. This year, BB5 seems determined to throw in as many twists as they possibly can, but I have to admit that the first one was pretty neat. They somehow managed to get a guy and a girl in as housemates who are half-siblings, but neither was aware of the other's existence before this. So far, one of them has managed to figure it out, but hasn't told the other yet. I still find Julie Chen infinitely annoying, but I suppose they could have gotten someone worse.

Amazing Race is just the best. If you haven't watched it and think all reality shows are dumb, just give it a try. Heck, the thing won an Emmy last year and TV Guide thinks it's great, so it can't be without any redeeming qualities! I would have loved, loved, loved to be a contestant on "Grace" this time around, but all efforts at convincing my brother to try out for it with me failed. He and I would be a killer team and there's no one I would rather race around the world with, but he wasn't buying it. That whole "having to get three months off from work" thing may have been a contributing factor.

But, okay, let's cut to brass tacks here, shall we? The show that's really making me do my very best hyena impression and just dying for the next episode is Joe Schmo 2. I watched and enjoyed the first season, but I truly believed it was a one-off; how could they possibly make it work a second time? Did they learn nothing from the disaster that was "Joe Millionaire 2" last year?? But they've done it, they've created yet another fake show that just rocks. The way in which they send up almost every aspect of every other reality show is such a hoot, and the seriousness with which these blatant sexual innuendos are laid out there by "The Pompous Host" just slays me. They've even found the perfect way to deal with fake show disaster -- someone figuring out the jig. And did I mention that they have a clumsy falcon? It's ingenious and entertaining and too damned funny to miss. Put a little Schmo in your summer -- you can thank me later.