New Philly Reality Show Saturday Morning Fever Debuts Tonight
Dance shows have been a staple of Philadelphia television pretty much since television started. American Banstand got its start in West Philly. In the 1980s, Dancin’ On Air was big on Channel 17. Much like Bandstand, a national show was launched on its back: Dance Party USA. (Fun fact: The first host of Dancin’ on Air was Dave Raymond — the original Phillie Phanatic.)
After a few episodes of the old Dancin’ on Air were aired on WPHL in 2011, the station relaunched the show the following year. The show moved to PhillyCAM on Saturdays at 10 in 2013. Much like its predecessors, the show has inspired a national show. Only instead of another dance show, this time it’s a reality show: Saturday Morning Fever debuts tonight at 11 on Fuse.
The show follows Casey Reed, a DJ on Q102 who also hosts Dancin’ on Air, and several regulars on the show as they prep for the show and live their lives off-screen. Fuse is billing the show as a “docu-comedy,” and it might as well use a laugh track the way it tries to punctuate some jokes. The show is produced by Relativity Television, the same company that brought us Catfish: The TV Show. “You’re supposed to kind of giggle about it,” a PR person told me.
I watched the pilot of the six-episode first season. It’s not super funny, but maybe it will develop. The most interesting parts are the most real parts: Seeing the dancers and crew shoot an episode of Dancin’ on Air is kind of fascinating, because it’s kind of a mess. It seems to take a full day to shoot because of all the mishaps and false starts.
“There’s no structure to the local show whatsoever,” Reed told Philadelphia magazine. “Most of it is all manufactured with volunteer help. It’s a PhillyCAM show — contrary to what one of the executive producers on Dancin’ on Air says, there really isn’t any money in it. I guess you get what you pay for. As someone who actually gets thrown in front of the camera, it’s very frustrating from my end because there’s no structure, there’s no format. It’s like, ‘You guys are the talent, go make the show.’ They need to give us a baseline to go on, and we don’t even have that.”
That’s the best part of the pilot: The performers on this show seem constantly frustrated with it. The breakout star of the show is Reed, who first became involved in hosting Dancin’ on Air when her old radio station, Wired 96.5, asked her to. Or, rather, told her to. “I wasn’t exactly interested, because it was kind of like a volunteer thing,” Reed says. “So my job said, ‘Oh, you have to go do it.’”
In Saturday Morning Fever, we see Reed in the process of planning her wedding to her longtime girlfriend. It’s the best backstory of any of the characters in the pilot. I asked Reed if she felt weird being on TV after a long career in Philly radio.
“My personal life has always been out, open and on the air,” Reed says. “I shared that with listeners on the air — and on social media, too. So it’s not much different at all. You’re just seeing it now instead.”
Fuse’s Saturday Morning Fever premieres at 11 p.m. and airs for six consecutive weeks on Wednesdays. 885 HD on Comcast, 716 HD on Verizon FIOS.
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