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The New Reality of Television

Tom PattonI like Ghost Hunters. Really.

For those of you who may not know, it’s a campy little show on SciFi that has a couple of plumbers from RotoRooter fronting an organization called ‘TAPS”… doing investigations of haunted places.

In the show, they travel around the country trying to find ghosts… and sometimes they find things that at least appear to be ghosts.

TAPS has investigated the lighthouse in St. Augustine, and showed on camera funky shadows and such in the lighthouse tower. They do try to debunk things, and won’t call something paranormal if it’s clearly a high EMF field, lights from cars, a squirrel on the roof… so that’s interesting.

But when you see the moving shadows, the flashlights turning on and off by themselves… it at least makes you wonder.

I call it a guilty pleasure, because its television to be watched strictly for mind candy. There are several of those on my regular watch list. Shows like Wreckreation Nation, Dirty Jobs, or Mythbusters.

Along with shows like Ice Road Truckers, Deadliest Catch, and the raft of logging shows that seem to be on this year, and they represent the next generation in reality shows. They’re more real than what had traditionally been called 'Reality'.

With Dirty Jobs, Wreckreation Nation, and the like, the producers rely on the audience for suggestions for the shows. Mythbusters, too makes use of the web to get ideas for myths to test.

The other shows, "Axe Men", "Deadliest Catch" and "Ice Road Truckers" all feature real people in real jobs who are willing to be videotaped doing them. There is usually lots of bleeping.

I really prefer these to the other ‘Reality Shows' … the “Survivor” or “Big Brother” or “Top Chef”. I’m not big on the phony challenges and other game show aspects of those shows.

I understand them, but they’re not real. So I’m not sure why they call them “reality”.

“Hell's Kitchen” takes the genre to a ridiculous level.

No, for me, I like reality shows that show something real. “Ghost Hunters” may be a bit of a stretch, but at least they’re real people who truly believe in that they’re doing. “Mythbusters” is something similar, but they mostly like to blow stuff up if there’s any opportunity to do so. Shows like “Deadliest Catch”, or the tamer “Treasure Quest” try to give you a glimpse of real life that you might not ever see otherwise.

But you, or I do at least, also start to really relate to the characters. On “Deadliest Catch”, one of the boat captains had serious health problems, and I really felt for him. You root for these guys to do well at their jobs. Of course, there’s always SOME element of competition. Who can catch the most crabs or move the most stuff on the ice or harvest the most logs. But the thrust of the show is about people doing a usually-very-dangerous job for sometimes a lot of money.

It’s really as American as it gets.

Speaking of those cooking shows. I’ve seen something on almost all of them that leaves me scratching my head. Many of these professional chefs and cooks… smoke.

Now, I’m a reformed smoker. I’ve lived around a lot of smokers. I know how smoking just kills the palate. I can’t imagine making a living making tasty food and having the taste of tobacco in your mouth.

And yet on the reality shows where they have the “behind the scenes” shots… they’re sitting around smoking.

I don’t get it. I can only imagine how much better their food might taste if they didn’t destroy their sense of taste with cigarette smoke.

Oh well… no accounting for taste, I guess.

3 Responses »

  1. I watch HULU.COM. At this site, all the great shows from years gone by at my fingertips for free. There is nothing better. Be sure to watch Damages. It stars Glenn Close and is terrific to watch. The Listener is a show that I enjoy. You have to watch a couple of minutes of advertising but nothing like cable or public channels.

    As for the smoking, who is to say that the cigarette companies aren't paying for product positioning? That is reality.

  2. Every single person on Hell's Kitchen smokes! I'm surprised Ramsey hasn't banned it, but they could use a break.

    Try Catch It, Keep It, that is a pretty cool show.

  3. We cncelled our cable to save money, I found Hulu and enjoy some television there as well as Paul.
    I enjoy Ghost Hunters as well- kind of fun. I also agree that Ide Roads and deadliest Catch are good "veg-out" programs. The fact that Hulu has them makes for better scheduling.

    As a "rave" Can anyone tell me the reason for causing all five of my televisons to become hi-tech paper-weights? So now everything is digital, so what? Seems this is one more incident where the government should have stayed out of the business world, and subsequently peoples lives.