On Wednesday night, ABC Family debuted its newest show, Spell-Mageddon, hosted by none other than Alfonso Ribeiro of Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (and that Michael Jackson Pepsi commercial) fame.
When I first saw the show’s name appear in my Comcast TV listings, I thought that Spell-Mageddon was some program about Wiccans and the End of the World. (I used to watch all those Nostradamus specials.)
Spell-Mageddon is a brand new hourlong game show in which contestants compete for $10,000 by attempting to spell words like “upholstery” and “cirrhosis” while being doused with liquids, pelted with balls and dunked into an ice cold tank of water. As host Ribeiro puts it, Spell-Mageddon is “the only show where you have to spell your way through ludicrous distractions.” He must really miss Will Smith.
Oh, it’s not actually fair to single out Spell-Mageddon, right? Just in 2013 alone, we’ve seen so many horrible shows emerge. For instance:
Bet On Your Baby: “Every parent thinks they know their baby well, but are they willing to bet on it?”
Splash: “Celebrities will look fear in the face as they leap off the 10-meter high dive, pair off to complete synchronized stunts, and flip, twist and spin into the depths of the pool below.”
Naked and Afraid: “Will the nude castaways have the brains and brawn to endure the harsh conditions? Or will the challenges prove to be overbare-ing?” (Though apparently the jury is still out on whether Naked is brilliantly bad or just plain bad.)
Now, I realize that I am commingling game shows and reality shows here, but does it really matter? Most of it can just be easily categorized as utter crap.
These types of shows are nothing new. Anyone who tells you that MTV’s Real World was the first reality show doesn’t know what they are talking about.
We can argue about whether the first reality show was PBS’s An American Family, ABC’s Confessions, or even Allen Funt’s Candid Camera from way, way back in the day, but “the true story of seven strangers picked to live in a house, work together and have their lives taped to find out what happens when people stop being polite and start getting real” definitely wasn’t it.
These days, one of the most popular prime time reality shows out there is America’s Got Talent, which was created by Simon Cowell, also the brains behind American Idol. Ten million people watched America’s Got Talent on Tuesday night. The show had 6 million more viewers than the second most-watched prime time show, So You Think You Can Dance. Extreme Weight Loss took third place with 3.7 million viewers. Yes, the top three were all reality shows.
And so, it is to the producers, directors and writers of America’s Got Talent and these other shows (or, really, anyone who has a couple million to spare) that I bring my own reality show idea: Paroled.
Everyone that I’ve mentioned Paroled to has looked at me like I’m crazy or has flat out told me that it’s an awful idea. But given the fact that Spell-Mageddon and Naked and Afraid exist, I figure, what the heck.
The idea behind Paroled is simple: Twelve longtime prison inmates compete for freedom. During the 12-week series, inmates tell their stories to the viewers.
We hear from the prisoners’ families, priests, elementary school teachers and wardens. The cops and District Attorneys involved in locking them up weigh in. We see crime scene photos.
At the end of each episode, America votes to eliminate one inmate from the competition, i.e. deny his or her parole. And at the end of the series, one inmate is given the ultimate prize: freedom. (And a Ford Focus from our sponsor, of course.)
Interested? Hit me up. Something tells me there will be some time slots opening up shortly.