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Bob on the Box: Reality and game shows

Bob Eveleigh
06/24/2013 14:08:43

Artslink.co.za News
Bob Eveleigh: There’s one new comedy series and the second season of another, but otherwise the focus is on reality and game shows.

First of all, M-Net (Channel 101) offers The Choice at 6pm this evening.

This is a TV "dating" game show that premiered on Fox Broadcasting in America a year ago.

The programme, which utilises a format similar to the blind audition rounds of The Voice, features three stages of competition and involves four single celebrity contestants (usually male; but sometimes featuring four female celebrities), competing to fill teams of three possible dates.

The celebrities will probably be more familiar to the younger brigade than the older home audience lsuch as one of the pop-singing Jonas Brothers, Joe, but minor league adult stars such a Carmen Electra and actor Dean Cain (once TV's Superman) also pop up in the only six one-hour episodes that were made.

The show is hosted by Irish émigré Cat Deeley, who once anchored the talent search Fame Academy with Ant and Dec, but is now resident in the US where she has found fame as the presenter of So You Think You Can Dance.

She can also currently be seen on DStv hosting the series Hollywood House Calls, which began last Monday on the Style Network (Channel 173) and which continues tonight, but at the slightly later time of 9.35pm as against the 9.10pm of its premiere.

Again, Deeley visits the homes of lesser "celebrities" in Hollywoodland and shows them off to viewers.

Also tonight, at 8.30pm on Sony Max (Channel 128), there is a short-lived American series, titled I Bet You Will, which most folk will want to give a miss if Fear Factor did not appeal to them.

Created and hosted by American humourist and political activist Morgan Spurlock, best known for his feature movie documentary, Super Size Me, the concept revolves around the idea that some people will do anything for money.

It will be no surprise for viewers to learn that this show originated on the Internet and was then picked up by MTV but, even there - and given the gross-out state of much of the so-called real-life "comedy" on this channel - it only lasted for six weeks as folks had to eat such items as worm sandwiches and drink multi-shots of cod liver oil.

And those were just two of the "nicer" challenges.

The money won was not great as payment for such stunts and I cannot see this half hour having much impact.

Getting a little more mainstream in appeal, Red Hot and Yummy, starting on the Food Network (Channel 175) at 4pm today, should be great fun to watch.

It features a woman named Nichola Smith, a flame-haired beauty who, after 20 years in the UK music industry, where she ended up as co-founding a night-club and a similarly-named record label, Fabric, took a personal chance and jumped into the catering world, cooking for celebrities (imagine handling a dinner party for Jamie Oliver and getting rave reviews!).

The change in career path saw her move from organising club nights for Boy George to doing eats affairs for the likes of Jo Wood and the group Madness, as she began to run a high-end catering company (but with the simple slogan "Good honest food with a smile!") .

Red, Hot and Yummy charts the highs and lows that Nichola experiences as she runs Healthy Yummies, which she started only four years ago, catering mainly for the showbiz, music and fashion industries and undertakes some nerve-jangling assignments, often plagued by such occurrences as goods getting lost in transit, staff members arriving late for work and vital equipment breaking down at the eleventh hour - to name but a few.

There would appear to be eight half hours in this first series, which aired only recently overseas.

With reference to Nik Wallenda's high wire walk across the Grand Canyon covered in last week's column and which aired at 2am this morning on Discovery (Channel 121) news from the services PR consultants is that there will be a repeat of the four-hour telecast split in two at 9.25pm and 12.10am on Wednesday night/ Thursday morning.

I am fully aware of how Nik fared in his daredevil outing but won't spoil the coverage for those who don’t know and might want to watch him defy the odds - actually he couldn't use the Grand Canyon (the US Government wouldn't allow him to do so), so planned to walk above a stretch of the Little Colorado River Gorge on Navajo Nation land, which caused some political upheaval anyway, since the native Americans were not too pleased with his choice of locale.

The actual walk can be seen in the second half (it was estimated that if he succeeded, Wallenda would walk for 20 minutes), with the first two hours devoted to the build-up and preparations, which must have been considerable.

Friday at 6.50pm on Comedy Central (Channel 122) brings the start of the first of three seasons of the US sitcom, Happy Endings, which ran on the ABC network from Apriil 13, 2011 to May 3, 2013.

Unusually, after premiering on the channel as a summer replacement show, it ran with back to back halfhours almost continuously throughout it existence until cancellation earlier this year.

Happy Endings follows the dysfunctional adventures of six best friends living in Chicago.

They are: a happily married couple, businessman Brad (Damon Wayans Jr.) and neurotic perfectionist Jane (Eliza Coupe); ditzy Alex (Elisha Cuthbert), a happy-go-lucky boutique owner and Jane's younger sister; daydreamer Dave (Zachary Knighton), an aspiring restaurateur and food truck owner, who used to be engaged to Alex; slacker Max (Adam Pally), who deals with trying to hold a job and maintaining a consistent relationship; and serial dating single girl Penny (Casey Wilson), who fears she's forever doomed for spinsterhood.

The series first begins with the six friends dealing with their group dynamic drastically changing after the breakup of the couple that first brought them all together, Dave and Alex. This leaves the rest of the group (Max, Brad, Jane, and Penny) in the awkward position of either trying to stay together as friends or having to choose sides. Dave and Alex decide to stay friends, but there are many more complications down the road.

Also appearing in recurring roles are familiar faces Megan Mullally, as Penny's mother, and Michael McKean, as her love interest.

Another unusual feature of the show is that, typically, each half-hour features two plotlines, with the focus on various members of the main sextet revolving to feature upfront.

I was taken to task by a follower of this column last week for not dealing with second seasons of apparently successful DStv shows which might have begun their initial runs before this column began running last year about this time.

So my apologies and herewith some details about the start of just such a follow-up season - for an offbeat comedy called Enlightened.

This will take the air on M-Net Series (Channel 114) at 8.30pm on Saturday.

Enlightened is a comedy-drama from America's envelope-pushing Home Box Office (HBO), which first saw the light of TV primetime on October 10, 2011. The series was created by a man named Mike White, who wrote every episode, and Laura Dern, who plays the lead role of Amy Jellicoe.

In 2012, Dern won the Golden Globe for Best Actress – Television Series Musical or Comedy - for her role in the series while the show was nominated for as Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy but failed to win.

After the completion of two seasons (18 episodes, eight of them in this run), HBO cancelled the show in March this year, due to low ratings, despite much critical acclaim.

With a theme line, "About a Woman on the Verge of a Nervous Breakthrough", Enlightened follows the story of Amy Jellicoe (Laura Dern), a self-destructive executive, who, after the implosion of her professional life and a subsequent philosophical awakening in rehabilitation, tries to get her life back together.

In this second run, in a running storyline, Amy has to deal with her discovery of an apparent huge corporate scandal within her own company.

The cast also includes such big cinema names as Luke Wilson, Molly Shannon and Dermot Mulroney, with Laura Deren's real-life mother, Diane Ladd, as her "reel-life" mom" (her "real-life" dad is famous actor Bruce Dern).

Finally on the sports scene, this week , of course, sees the start of the Wimbledon fortnight, while, following the Boks' destruction of Samoa, aside from the second British and Irish Lions Test against Australia on Saturday morning, the focus swings back to the Super 15 competition.

Bob Eveleigh


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