For all things there is a season, and for reality TV that season is Summer. Yes folks, the time has arrived. As networks wrap up the regular season for prime-time series, they also introduce their summer fare of reality TV favorites for our TV viewing consumption. As in most summer entertainment, the fare is light, titillating, and slightly addictive. At least addictive enough to keep you glued to the TV, in spite of sunny skies and warm weather right outside your front door. The recipe for a reality TV hit is simple: a tablespoon of fun, a teaspoon of drama, and a dash of sex. Mix it all together and you could have a winner. I could be wrong on the recipe, I'm really not much of a cook. The networks are hoping for that winning combination in their summer TV line ups.
ABC is looking for a one, two punch from "The Bachelorette" (5/19) and the return of "The Mole" (5/26). The bachelorette this season will be DeAnna Pappas, who was rejected by Brad Womack in last season's "The Bachelor". Viewers might recall Womack as the scoundrel that picked neither woman at the end of his season. In "The Mole" the object of the game for contestants is not to find true love, but to compete in challenges, win the most money, and uncover the identity of the "mole" or saboteur hired by the producers to work as a double-agent.
NBC is relying on a couple of talent-themed competitions as their winning ticket. "America's Got Talent" (6/17) is a talent show featuring everything from jugglers, tumblers, dancers, singers, comedians and other performers, including ventriloquists (like last year's winner), all competing for a cash prize of $1 Million. The aptly named "Last Comic Standing" (5/22), is a competition to find the "funniest comic in the planet" according to the NBC website. This year they have some NBC comedy stars, past and present, serving as scouts during the audition process. Scouts include Angela Kinsey aka Angela Martin of Dunder Mifflin on "The Office", George Wendt aka Norm Peterson from "Cheers", and Josh Gomez aka Morgan Grimes on "Chuck", to name a few. The last comic standing, chosen by call-in votes from the public, will win a $250,000 grand prize including an exclusive talent deal with NBC, a brand new Honda, and a starring appearance in Jubilee! at Bally's Las Vegas.
CBS is relying on its sure-fire winner, "Big Brother 10" (7/13) to carry them to victory. Big Brother is the epitome of summer reality TV. It's rarely boring, sometimes scandalous, and always entertaining. The shows puts a group of strangers (houseguests) into the Big Brother house and tapes them 24/7, without any privacy, for our viewing pleasure. In true Big Brother tradition, house guests know to expect the unexpected, as producers throw in twists and surprises to keep the houseguests guessing and the show entertaining.
FOX hopes that "So You Think You Can Dance" (5/22 and 5/28- 2 night/4 hr premiere) dances straight into your hearts and TV sets. The dance competition centers around amateur dancers from all over the country trying to make the top 24 and move on to the live shows where America votes for their favorites. As with American Idol, sometimes the more entertaining (and cringe inducing) performances are during the audition rounds at the start of the season.
I'll end with this message. It's summer, live it up, put off NPR's "All Things Concerned" and PBS' "Masterpiece Theater" until Fall, and instead enjoy a bit of fluff strictly meant to enliven your senses and dull your mind. You can make up those lost brain cells by watching a couple episodes from MENSA International Chairman's list of smartest TV shows of all time. The big cheese at MENSA provided the list during an interview with Fancast. Included on Mensa's list: Jeopardy, Cosmos (with Carl Sagan), and believe it or not, House.