George to the Rescue (2010-Present), has aired on NBC for nearly a decade. Hosted by contractor George Oliphant, the show follows George and his team as they renovate the homes of deserving families.
What I like about this program is that the renovations are more than vanity projects or the homeowners looking to add value to their house in order to sell it. It’s about giving back to a family who is going through hard times and desperately needs a leg up of some sort. I don’t know if one might classify it as reality television. But if it does fall under that category, it certainly makes up for some of the brainless programs that also fall into the category of “reality television”.
Since it’s debut about twenty years ago, reality shows have become the norm on our television schedules. It is therefore, not surprising that this genre has left no television stone unturned.
Tough Enough (2001-2015) originally aired on MTV before moving to UPN and then the USA Network. The premise is pretty much the same as any competition reality show: thousands of potential contestants send in their tapes. Of those thousands, twenty three are chosen to compete to become professional wrestlers. Over the course of the season, the contestants are eliminated until the winner(s) are chosen as future WWE superstars.
Though I only watched this show while it was on MTV, it was interesting while it was on the air. Granted, it was aimed specifically at the WWE fan base and not the general audience, it was still compelling as a television program. Granted, as time has gone by, it has become just another reality show.
For a late-night talk show to succeed, it has to do more than making the audience laugh. It has to give the audience a sense of comfort before they go to bed.
In 2014, comic and SNL alum Jimmy Fallon inherited the mantle of host of The Tonight Show. Renamed The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Fallon is the sixth host in a storied line of legendary late-night TV hosts. Following the standard format of opening with a monologue with perhaps a skit and a series of celebrity interviews, this program continues the legacy that started in 1954.
Though I am rarely awake when this program airs, I find myself enjoying it when I am awake. As a host, Fallon comes off as personable, friendly and entertaining.
When one thinks of Hollywood, one normally thinks of glitz and glamour. But behind the screen is another story.
Mysteries and Scandals aired on E! from 1998-2001. Hosted by A.J. Benza, the series told the story of various celebrities who either died in a suspicious manner or were scandalized in some manner. Included in the program were experts in the case, reenactments, and photographs.
As I recall, I enjoyed this program. The noir-ish format of the program added to the mystery. Benza, as a host, came off as a grizzled detective, which worked perfectly within the context of the series.
Unless you walk a mile in another person’s shoes, it is impossible to understand their point of view.
Undercover Boss aired on CBS from 2010-2016. Based on the British series of the same name, the show follows either a company owner or a high-level manager as they go undercover as an entry-level employee. After a week of going undercover, the boss reveals who they really are. At the conclusion of the episode, changes to the company are put in place or individual employees are rewarded for their hard work.
What I like about this show is that it highlights how difficult work is and how important it is to be recognized for doing your job well. Granted, it is a reality show. But there is something to be said when employees are respected and appreciated for the work they do.
TV game shows have existed since the beginning of television. But it takes a unique program to stand out within the genre.
Legends of the Hidden Temple aired on Nickelodeon from 1993-1995 and was hosted by Kirk Fogg. The premise of the show was that there was a fictional Mayan temple filled with gold, jewels, and other treasures. Guarded by Olmec (voiced by Dee Bradley Baker), the young contestants were challenged by physical and academic challenges relating to history, geography, and mythology.
As I remember it, Legends of the Hidden Temple was fun to watch. It would have been easy to create another game show that is made up of just physical or academic challenges. But in combining both and adding an Indiana Jones sensibility, this program was able to stand out for the two years that it was on the air.
In the world of reality television shows, a spin off is common place. The question is, if the spin off, like any sequel is worthy of it’s predecessor?
In 2007,Flavor of Love Girls: Charm School premiered on VH1. A spin off of Flavor of Love, the show was hosted by Mo’Nique. The purpose of the program was to teach etiquette to the female contestants from the two seasons of Flavor of Love. The winner would walk away with $50,000 and the title of Charm School Queen.
I have to admit that I am a former reality show addict. I didn’t watch every show, but this one I did watch. Though it had some appeal at the time, at the end of the day, it was just another reality show.
There is something to be said about a good science fiction story. While the story must be out of this world, it must also have human qualities for the audience to relate to.
Dr. Who has been a staple of British television since 1963. The title character is a Time Lord in human form known as the Doctor. Traveling in a spaceship known as the Tardis (which resembles a British police box on the outside), the Doctor travels through time and space with their companion(s). Along the way, the main character helps the less fortunate while encountering villains whose goal is to see to their demise.
Currently, the title character is played by Jodie Whittaker. I am not a huge Dr. Who fan, but I appreciate that this program does not take itself too seriously. This, in my opinion, allows both the audience and the characters to have fun and not take themselves too seriously.
Come the afternoon, there are a few choices for television. There is the local news, a rerun on cable or the afternoon talk show. For a talk show and a talk show host to succeed, he or she (in my opinion) must come off a personable, friendly and feel like this is someone who I want to have coffee with.
From 1996-2002, actress and comedienne Rosie O’Donnell hosted her own self titled talk show. The format was the same as any celebrity based talk show. There is an opening monologue, perhaps some back and forth with the audience, conversations with the guest hawking their latest projects and then the credits roll.
I remember that this show was afternoon appointment television for me. Unlike other talk show hosts, Rosie felt like an old friend. She was funny, she was entertaining and she spoke to the audience instead of speaking down to the audience.