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”.
When you’re a kid, you may have wished for a treehouse in your backyard.
Builder Pete Nelson makes that wish come true for adults on his Animal Planet program, Treehouse Masters, (2013-2018). The show follows Pete and his team as they build treehouses for adults who want much more than a simple boxed frame treehouse.
I have to admit that although I am not a huge fan of this show, the treehouses are really cool. It takes whatever ideas a child might have about a treehouse and expands it in ways that only a creative mind could think of. Granted, it is still a reality show, but it does not have the mind-numbing effect that other reality shows have on the viewer.
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.
When it comes to late-night television, viewers have a choice of what to watch.
Late Night with Seth Meyers has been on the air since 2014. Hosted by SNL alum Seth Meyers, the show follows the standard format of the genre: a monologue going over the news of the day, interviews with celebrities and a performance by a music group or a comic.
What I like about this program is that Meyers and his producing team have broken out the mold. The show has a political and cultural edge that is both relevant, topical and extremely funny.
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.
There is two sides to fame: the name recognition, the extravagant salaries, the clothing that most of will never wear, etc. But there is also a darker side to fame.
E! True Hollywood Story (1996-2002) introduced the viewer to the less than glamorous side of fame. There were stories of scandal, mysteries, secrets and other sordid tales of Hollywood that create headlines for the wrong reasons.
This show is like a car wreck on the highway. As a viewer, you would prefer to watch something else. But this show is addicting and no matter how salacious it is, it’s hard to turn away. It’s no wonder this program was rebooted this year.
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.
Being a teenager is hard enough. But adding something else to that plate makes life twice as hard and twice as interesting.
Doogie Howser, M.D.was on the air from 1989-1993. Doogie Howser (Neil Patrick Harris) is much more than the average teenage boy. He has the academic intellect of someone far older than he. This leads him to an early career in medicine. While delving in the adult world of medicine, he is also dealing with the emotional pitfalls of being a teenager.
This show, as I remember it, was interesting. The basic premise of the program is a fish out of water story meets a coming of age tale. Though the program is very much a part of its time, there is also a universal quality to the narrative.