Friday, 27 August 2010

Why fake it?

Reality TV comes in for a lot of stick. "It's dumbing down TV" people cry, not to mention the fact that its ongoing popularity diverts funds away from more expensive properties that involve needless costs such as actors and script-writers.

Well, at least that used to be the case. In the ongoing quest for compelling content, smart producers have started plotting out 'narrative arcs' for their shows. They engineer scenarios, introduce new characters and even re-stage key events to maximise audience appeal. Suddenly, the word 'reality' doesn't seem quite appropriate.

This year, Sky One took the genre to its logical conclusion by presenting the quite spectacular Pineapple Dance Studios. With a comical voiceover from Michael Buerk, characters so preposterous that they made Melrose Place look like Dogme 95, and regular song-and-dance numbers, 'Pineapple' accidentally rediscovered the value of entertainment - a concept long absent from most of the shows being broadcast.

Admittedly, that's not much of a recommendation. After all, by the time last year's Big Brother rolled around, it had evolved into the equivalent of watching 13 weeks of CCTV inside a low-security prison.

Still, the world didn't know quite what to make of Pineapple's star attraction Louie Spence, a lisping, pirouetting dervish of gay energy in stripy feline leggings. After all, no-one could be that gay. Could they?

Viewers were similarly incredulous about Louie's co-star Andrew Stone. The one-time boyband member, dance teacher and solo 'artiste' was so lacking in self-awareness that Ricky Gervais couldn't have created him.

Appearing at the Edinburgh International TV Festival this week, Louie told the assembled crowd that the show was definitely unscripted and the characters are all pretty much as seen on TV. However, he did admit that some of the scenes were faked for the cameras - "There are moments that we do act, or they say, 'Can you do that again?' But we're all performers in that building."

Not that any of this will have come as a revelation to anyone who happened to see the show - every fifteen minutes a group of builders would break out into a carefully choreographed dance routine, unbeknownst to the main characters.

Ultimately, it doesn't really matter how much of it is staged, scripted, set-up or spur-of-the-moment. Its only objective is to entertain, and unlike most of the trash that gets commissioned by unimaginative network executives, Pineapple Dance Studios accomplishes that in spades. Roll on series two.

No comments:

Post a Comment