I like Troy Patterson’s idea here: he sits down with a bunch of friends and watches screeners for new series pilots, until someone has had enough and rings a bell. If that person’s exasperation is seconded, the group moves on to a new screener.
But I’m dismayed that of the nine shows they watched during this experiment, four were “reality” shows, three were adaptations of overseas shows, and one was a serialized adaptation of a three-hundred-year-old novel that everybody knows the end to. Only one, the new Christian Slater vehicle My Own Worst Enemy, is actually original fiction. I don’t know if this is a representative sample, but taken with HBO’s recent import of Flight of the Conchords (good) and Little Britain (looks awful), I smell some The Office-inspired corruption of our native pride. Are we really going to let the British, the Australians, and the Israelis write our television for us? “It’s foreign, and we’ve heard of it, so it must be good!” What’s next — primetime telenovelas?
Well, if we’re going to mindlessly cover foreign shows, I hope we get around to the Spanish game show my friends and I used to watch in college, El Gran Juego de la Oca. Basic premise — players roll electronic “dice” and move around a giant game board, and at every square, something weird happens. Usually it’s a stunt of some kind — lying in a box of snakes for X seconds, or trying to climb a telephone pole while a guy dressed like one of the Mario Bros. chops it down with an axe. But sometimes, it’s just inexplicable. (At least, if you don’t speak Spanish, but I’m not optimistic that that would help.)
Of course, some segments need less explaining than others: