Where Mediocre Reality Shows Go to Die

You know how sometimes after you've had in the neighborhood of five to twenty beers, you and your friends think up what seems like the best idea ever for a reality television show? Well, it turns out there's one more thing standing in the way of those shows making it to the air (other than their general level of retardedness) -- most of them already exist.

I discovered this recently when I tuned into the Fox Reality Channel, which features such near-miss programming as:

--Corkscrewed: The Grapes of Wrath. Unfortunately, this isn't wine-themed porn, but instead a show about a dude trying to make it work as a vineyard owner.

--The Family. Hosted by George Hamilton, this show sticks a middle-class New Jersey family into a Palm Beach mansion and then forces them to compete in "high society challenges" (like playing polo on the backs of tiny ponies, judging from the brief preview I saw) to see who'll win a million dollars. The show's producers have used the Sopranos/Godfather font for the title, though it's unclear what the "gangster" angle is other than the family being from Jersey.

--Outback Jack. "Twelve beautiful, high-maintenance city women are literally dropped into the middle of the Australian Outback, 12,000 miles from home. They each have to decide if they can give up their designer shoes, nonfat cappuccinos and all the comforts of home in order to win the affection of a ruggedly handsome, real-life 'Crocodile Dundee.'"

--My Bare Lady. This one is about porn, as adult film stars compete to become real actresses of the London Stage, under the tutelage of a creepy old British dude who likes to leer a lot.

--T.H.E.M. (Totally Hidden Extreme Magic). "Combines the voyeurism of a hidden camera show with unbelievable illusions and unsuspecting victims. A gang of talented street magicians sets up various scenarios to lure in potential unsuspecting targets. After the team has amazed viewers and bewildered their victims, they reveal themselves to the target — as one of T.H.E.M."

--The Block. Couples move into identical apartments with small budgets and have to "out-design" one another.

--Cannonball Run. "Loosely based on the movie of the same name," this show features teams racing across the country for a $75,000 prize.

--Looking for Love: Bachelorettes in Alaska. Like a T.C. Boyle story gone horribly awry, this show sends single women to America's man-laden icy tundra in search of Mr. Right.

And there's more. Lots, lots more. The Fox Reality Channel also replays old reality shows (which I have to admit is a pretty good idea), and if you're lucky, you can even catch a replay of Man vs. Beast I and II.

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