Jun 13, 2007

Review: On the Lot

Have you watched this show? I remember when i first heard about it back in february and was genuinely interested in trying out, or at the very least, finding out more about it. There was a casual buzz within the film department about what a new reality show about filmmakers and filmmaking could potentially mean. Was this a new lottery ticket to buy into? Could i make it? Does it seem legitimate? What am i going to do when i win!? haha, and so on and so forth.

I never did try out, but it was more from lack of time from end of the semester projects than anything else. But, in any case, i bring up the show because since it started a few weeks ago, it's managed to impress and dissapoint me in so many ways.

First, there's the setup of the show. When it started, On the Lot was a reality show that followed a large group of filmmakers from various backgrounds as they completed several challenges. There was a pitch project, and a collaborative film project where we got to see a select group of standouts as they went through the process of writing, directing and editing. There were some quick eliminations of those who weren't up to snuff, and then the remaining folks were right back into a challenge. All in all, it was actually really good tv, and was exactly what i'd been hoping to see. They got the ball rolling on letting the audience see what the filmmakers were actually like, so it was fun to watch and see who had the ego, who was too aggressive or passive, who was the best and worst at what, etc.

Then a week passed. The whole show had changed. The drama element was gone, and now there was a host, a stage, and a distinctly american idol-like setup. No longer did they show the filmmakers interacting, but they just sat on the stage until it was their turn to show their one minute film. Ok, new format, but at least watching their films was entertaining, right? Yeah, watching the films was fun, but having them spread over a 2hr episode was incredibly boring. On top of all this, the time and date of the show has been inconsistent, so finding out when it's on has been a hassle. Due to lackluster ratings, FOX cut the 2 episodes a week for 1 a week (something i just found out), which may explain some of the confusion. The current format now involves showing 5 films at random per week, in an hour episode, with someone getting eliminated each week after people vote online.

My only question after all this is why can't the show get its act together? After all, they have Mark Burnett and Steven Speilberg's names attached, they have a new reality show that has no similar counterpart, and they have the potential for an endless amount of film related challenges and drama. So why has the show about great filmmaking not embraced what they're trying to find? The finished films from the past weeks have been great; funny, stylish, unique and memorable. But cutting right to showing the movies seems somewhat like cutting right to tribal council in Survivor. It's just that the movies on the show would seem so much better if we got to see that drama from the first week, where you can appreciate the fact that the director had to sit through 50 takes of one line, or couldn't find an actor, or had no idea how to end the script, or just wanted to beat one of the other filmmakers.

The show about filmmaking is really about watching movies, and being On the Lot is really about being on a stage. I just wish they weren't making it so difficult for people to enjoy it because it's such a good idea (which is why i'll keep watching). Maybe there will be another season, and maybe by then they'll have it figured out. I just can't help but think that a better prize than a million dollar production deal with Dreamworks, would be handing creative control of On the Lot over to whoever wins the competition.

1 comment :

Tyson said...

I've said it before and I'll say it again - reality tv blows and it is the worst thing to happen to tv since they cancelled Futurama. Alright, I don't actually know how in time those events are related to each other, but you get the point.