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Jul 4, 2005

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by Phil R. Elliott

I must be an idiot.

Before you wholeheartedly agree, let me "splainify."

I may be the one and only, last holdout, who refuses to watch what are called reality shows on television.

I truly thought the premise for "Survivor" was absolutely stupid and knew during the trailers it would be far from reality - that the production staff would fix the outcome according to ratings and other external pressures. I didn't watch but it became hard not to hear the controversial discussions among friends. I was somewhat perturbed that so many others thought this show was so damned good.

A few years down the road, one can scarcely get away from this style of television production. First, they are extremely cheap to produce, at least in comparison to one-hour drama series such as ER or Hill Street Blues. Second, there is a never-ending line of volunteers to be involved, whether to try to win a few bucks, make total fools of themselves, or become a gofer to some billionaire. And, network news seems to cover this stuff as if it was something real.

With the popularity of the first couple of reality shows, Hollywood couldn't turn out copycats fast enough. Since I choose not to watch these shows, I've lost track of how many have already come and gone.

In a recent typical week, I found listings for Amazing Race, Biggest Loser, Fat Actress, America's Next Top Model, Chasing Farrah, American Idol and even some repeats of Real Gilligan's Island and several others. Oh goodie! Now I'm seeing summer replacements about competitions between would-be chefs (a rip off of Iron Chef?) and crafters (a race to put together a family photos scrapbook?).

I suspect I'll never be one of TV's Sexiest Men, win The Bachelor or date the Bachelorette, Dance With the Stars, Skate With Celebrities or have somebody cool Date My Mother. I'm skeptical that anyone will Pimp My Ride or whether my apartment, garage, wardrobe or body will be involved in a total makeover.

More importantly, I doubt that I spend much time watching anyone else win or receive these dubious honors.

Too, I must be among the minority on the expanse of CSI-Everytown, and Law & Order-Anything. I have watched and enjoyed the latter, while choosing not to try the former.

The so-called "summer blockbusters" are starting to show up at the local theater and ALL of them are remakes - some of 60s television sitcoms!

I'm rather amazed that the largest entertainment industry in the world is based about 90% on copying. Sad.

In my little world, the reality I choose on TV is watching racing. There is nothing more real than the drama that unfolds while a few dozen of the finest drivers attempt to out-think each other. At the same time, a similar number of crew chiefs chase improving or decaying track and weather conditions. And this goes for oval and straight racing, equally.

Then there is the constantly evolving dramady of crewchiefs, crewmembers, sponsors and drivers. Could any screenwriter come up with such a script?

Undeniably, this is reality television...

Thanks for checking out the PhilZone portion of Draglist.com. If you have accolades, complaints, comments, questions, or if you want to share a story, please feel free to post it on the PhilZone Message Board. Phil


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