Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – Fictional Reality in Siberia

The summer shows have started, some of them anyway.  And while we still have a few left to premiere, and despite my second DVR crash since March (I’ve lost over 200 recordings this calendar year due to faulty boxes), I did manage to catch up on the new NBC fictional reality program, Siberia.

Fictional Reality.  Now that’s an oxymoron.

Siberia has also been called a “scripted reality” TV show.  Either way, this series is not real and it might as well be called a drama like everything else on television today.  Only this series doesn’t have any recognizable actors or actresses.

My confusion with this series started before the pilot episode aired.  It all began when I saw a commercial less than one week before its premiere.  Why hadn’t I heard anything about this before?  Great promotion, NBC…  Then after watching the teaser, I had to rewind the commercial a few times and watch it over and over.  Was Siberia a reality show?  No, it kind of looked like a scripted drama with people running for their lives and dying with Blair Witch-like cinematography.  In other words, my cup of tea!  So then I did what I always do, I scanned through my TV guide and found the listing.  But from the description, Siberia totally sounded like a reality program.  At this point, I set the series to record.  I mean, why not?  Clearly the confusion had me intrigued…

So what was Siberia?  A scripted drama?  A reality program?  I’ll tell you what it was.  A mess.  That’s what.

It started out like any other reality competition…

Sixteen contestants are dropped in the Siberian forest.  Their goal?  Survive the wilderness for half a million dollars.  Everything at this point seems like a typical reality show.  The participants were given their first challenge—find the cabins they would live in throughout the duration of the contest.  The last two to arrive would be eliminated.

Sounds like a normal reality show, right?

But then everything changes.

When does everything go south?  Well, for one, when a cameraman comes back to camp with a mysterious injury.  Oh, and when the host arrives to announce one of the contestants was involved in a fatal accident—that’s right; a player is dead.

WHAT??

It gets better (or worse…).

At this point in the game, the host then decides to give the remaining players a choice—to continue (yeah, right; if someone really died in a mysterious manner, I doubt production would go on….) or quit and walk away with $5,000 cash on the spot.  Only one contestant left and took the money.

Someone just died… do I play on or quit now? Decisions, decisions.

Within minutes, the game carries on like nothing ever happened.  A few players are even concerned with having sex with the other contestants at this point… not with the fact that someone just supposedly died.

Now, I like reality TV.  I love Survivor, Big Brother, MTV’s The Challenges, and Hell’s Kitchen.  Don’t get me wrong; I realize that not everything is really real on “reality” TV.  Trust me; it’s not.  I know this for a fact.  I’ve had a friend, two actually, that appeared on a reality TV show and last through several rounds.  And while the events we see do actually happen, editing is king.  Viewers see what production wants us to see.  TV audiences at home feel about certain contestants the way production wants us to.  Period.

But this?  Siberia?  Yikes.

Bottom line?  I don’t know why I’m still watching Siberia.  Maybe it’s because I’m a glutton for punishment and I have a hard time quitting things?  Even TV shows…  Therefore, this new “reality” program earns the LOTV rating.  Blech doesn’t even begin to describe it.  Yet, I will probably still watch a few more episodes to see if it gets any better.

Have you watched Siberia?  Do you plan to?  Is “reality” TV going too far?  I’d love to hear from you!

Remember to stop by the #watchwed hashtag in Twitter to discuss today’s review, or to mention any television programs that you’d like to see on Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday in the future.

A Recap of The WatchWed Review System:

GTV (Gourmet TV): Everything we want and more
MacTV (MacNCheese TV): Guilty pleasure. Not perfect, but is satisfies
GMacTV (Gourmet MacNCheese TV): A combination of fine wine and comfort food
JFTV (Junk food TV):It’s not great for us, but we’ll go back for seconds
TBPTV (Twice Baked Potato TV): Part gourmet and delicious, while absolutely horrible for our cholesterol
SSTV (Still Simmering TV): It has potential, but the jury is still out
NIV (NyQuil Induced Viewing): Perfect for that late night television sleep timer
LOTV (Liver&Onions TV): Do we really have to explain? Blech
Inedible TV: Exactly how it sounds…

Television’s Summer Standouts

The summer shows have started, some of them anyway.  We still have The Bridge (FX) set to premiere this week, a few shows about camp life (Camp, an upcoming NBC dramedy, and Summer Camp, a new USA reality series), and The Vineyard (ABC Family) later this month… but out of the series that have already aired, which ones do you consider to be summer standouts?

Crossing Lines (NBC)

Devious Maids (Lifetime)

Graceland (USA)

King & Maxwell (TNT)

Mistresses (ABC)

Motive (ABC)

Ray Donovan (Showtime)

Siberia (NBC)

Under the Dome (CBS)

Whodunnit? (ABC)

For me, Siberia, Ray Donovan, and Whodunnit? are my summer standouts.

Siberia because it’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen on television before.  And not in a good way.  By definition, the show might not fall under the classification of a standout, but it does stand out. Let’s just say it’s a scripted reality program (yeah, might as well call it a drama) with Blair Witch-like cinematography.  Yet, I keep watching…

Ray Donovan because Liev Schreiber is hot.  Ray is a family man; he’s a successful business man (he’s a Hollywood “fixer); he’s a man of few words; and most importantly, he’s not one to cross.  Seriously, hurt his family (either physically or verbally), and just see what happens.  This new Showtime series reminds me a lot of Scandal… meets The Sopranos.

And Whodunnit? because I can’t figure it out.  It may be a corny-murder-mystery-reality series, but I simply can’t figure it out.  I have my suspects… but “the killer” has already proven me wrong once.  Will he/she again?

Your turn… what are your Summer Standouts?  Or Stand Outs?  I’d love to hear from you!