Will Reality TV Get Real in 2004?


Will Reality TV Get Real in 2004?


Los Angeles continues to pump out TV pilots, just so a dozen might actually get a run.

Hollywood types, and even the odd punter, come up with hundreds of ideas, just to see 70 pilots produced. The culling process sees a dozen get stay alive. Then the battle emerges as to what get shows on what station and what time.

Unlike previous years there are a couple of real quality Reality TV programs, that both discerning producers and customers will eat up.

The most hyped show of the year, the US version of the UK hit Coupling, has been canceled already, along with a remake of Tarzan, headlined by Australian underwear model Travis Fimmel. Jerry Bruckhemier's porn industry drama, Skin was canned after only two episodes, along with David E. Kelley's Brotherhood of Poland, New Hampshire. Rob Lowe's new series, The Lyon's Den, hasn't been axed yet, but few expect it to survive the year.


Profiles of new Reality TV programs


The Simple Life (Channel Seven)

Real-life heiresses Paris Hilton and Nicole Ritchie move into a farm house and try to survive in the real world.

Star: Tabloid postergirl Hilton.

Our verdict What's this doing on TV? Hilton's now the star of a home-made sex video. You read about it in your spam box, and it's doing the rounds.


Cold Case (Channel Nine)

Investigating used by police cases, and trying to get it right the second time around.

Star: Jerry Bruckheimer, the producer with the Midas touch.

The pitch: CSI meets Cold Squad.

This has real potential


Arrested Development (Channel Seven)

Single dad (Jason Bateman) takes control of his well to do, eccentric family after his father is locked up for cooking the books.

Star: Former teen idol Bateman plus Ally McBeal's Portia de Rossi.

The pitch: Malcolm in the Middle comes to mind.

Original. Could be too much of a thinkers show for real success.


Las Vegas (Channel Seven)

James Caan as a street tough former CIA agent who runs a security and surveillance firm in Las Vegas.

Star: Caan, plus writer/producers Gary Scott Thompson (The Fast and the Furious) and Gardner Stern (The Practice).

The pitch: Vegas for the new generation.

Likely to be Seven's strongest bet for 2004.


Navy NCIS (Channel Ten)

Naval lawyers go about doing their case work. Headlined by Mark Harmon and David McCallum.

Star: Harmon (St Elsewhere; Chicago Hope) and McCallum (The Man from U.N.C.L.E.) plus the Donald Bellisario's factor (JAG series).

The pitch: JAG meets Law and Order.

An interesting cast. Could he bit or miss.


Jake 2.0 (Channel Ten)

Ccomputer geek (Christopher Gorham) at the National Security Agency survives an accident in a lab, but comes out with super strength and sensory perception.

Star: The visual effects and the script give it legs.

The pitch: Techno Teenagers will love this.

Bound to be a winner.


Tru Calling (Channel Seven)

Morgue worker (Eliza Dushku) discovers she can relive the same day and uses her powers to save lives.

Star: Dushku, known and loved by Buffy fans; Phil Noyce directed the pilot. We thought Phil was with Hi't! TV.

The pitch: Early Edition meets Groundhog Day.

The success of this is anyone's guess.


Joan of Arcadia (Channel Nine)

A teenage girl (Amber Tamblyn) has conversations with God.

Star: Producer Barbara Hall, who created Judging Amy.

The pitch: Touched by an Angel meets Buffy.

Could be the hit of the pack. Tamblyn is great, the concept is inventive and the program is engaging.


Miss Match (Channel)

Divorce lawyer (Alicia Silverstone) spends her evenings playing matchmaker.

Star: Silverstone and Ryan O'Neal, with executive producer, Darren Star (Sex and the City).

The pitch: Straight up by day, naughty and adventurous by night.

Might be too out of touch with reality.


Hope & Faith (Channel Seven)

Soapie star (Kelly Ripa) is dumped from her daytime TV show and moves in with her suburban family.

Star: Ford (Murphy Brown) plus creator/producer Joanna Johnson, who started as The Bold and the Beautiful's late Caroline Spencer.

The pitch: Kate and Allie come to mind.

We have seen it before.


10-8 (Channel Ten)

Street kid (Danny Nucci) joins the LA Sheriff's Department and doesn't get along with his tough training officer (Ernie Hudson).

Star: Titanic bit player Nucci and producer Aaron Spelling.

The pitch: Anyone remember Chips?

This could be huge.


The Handler (Channel Ten)

FBI agent Joe Renato (Joe Pantoliano) trains rookies who do undercover work in Los Angels.

Star: Pantoliano, well-known character actor and Sopranos alumnus.

The pitch: Mission Impossible in smart ass fashion.

Potential to attract a cult-plus following.