James Griffin 's Opinion

James Griffin is a columnist for Canvas magazine.

James Griffin: Reinventing reality TV

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What's next for reality TV? James Griffin has some big ideas. Photo / Thinkstock
What's next for reality TV? James Griffin has some big ideas. Photo / Thinkstock

As has been my way since the dawn of time when I started writing this weekly column, I like to take advantage of this time of the year, when all is relatively quiet, to pitch my genius ideas for reality television shows to the people who make reality television. Up 'til now this ploy has been somewhat less than successful in that precisely zero of my ideas have been picked up to provide me with the fortune I crave. This may be a case of the reality TV makers thinking I am taking the piss when, in actuality, I think it was more a case of my ideas being so far ahead of the curve that it seemed I was taking the piss.

This year I have decided to go back to the #1 rule of reality TV: find something that works and clone it. This year is all about reinventing the classics, but with a worthy twist in order to make feelgood television feel even better about itself. Mitre 10 Dream Home showed me the way by turning the Christchurch earthquakes into reality gold and it is in their classy footsteps I follow.

My awesome hit show The Amazing Chase will take advantage of global climate change by sending telegenic couples off on a wacky adventure chasing calamity all over the globe.

Hurricanes, volcanic eruptions, tornadoes; whatever the planet throws at humanity, this show will send competitors hurtling around the globe, battling airline check-in staff, taxi drivers unwilling to drive towards the volcano spewing lava and each other, just to willingly stand smack in the middle of a disaster zone. One by one (and by various means) teams will be eliminated until one teams is pronounced the winner by a Jesus-like Phil Keoghan, standing in the ruins.

Refugee Big Brother will see competitors being stripped of all nationality and, eventually, identity by being sent to a Godless hell-hole where they will attempt to exist in a state of bureaucratic purgatory. Instead of wacky challenges where the competitors have to get drunk and naked and then snog each other the lost souls of Refugee Big Brother will do nothing except attempt to deal with the fact they are now non-citizens of this planet, until the frustration becomes too much and they riot and burn down the detention centre. The winner is the only one who emerges with their hopes and dreams intact.

New Zealand Idolatry is exactly like New Zealand Idol except replacing singing with religion in an attempt to sort out once and for all (or at least until the second series) which deity we should be worshipping. Religion can be, as history proves over and over again, a very divisive thing. But with New Zealand Idolatry all that potential sectarian conflict can be channelled into entertaining bite-sized chunks of religion played out in front of an enthusiastic studio audience, with a public vote determining the winning God and which gets a new car. In order to attract younger viewers to this show I would allow being a fan of One Direction to be classified as a religion.

Survive This takes the underlying thesis of Survivor to its logical conclusion. In this gripping series when the two tribes go to war they will literally go to war. After a series of seemingly wacky competitions which actually build the underlying animosity between the tribes, the two camps on the Godforsaken atoll will start receiving rewards in the form of weapons.

The firepower and killing potential of the weapons will increase as the tribes compete to form alliances with one of three superpowers: Russia, China and the US. In a late-series twist, after inter-tribal hostility has spilled into open warfare, a third tribe, representing the UN, will be introduced on to the atoll to keep the warring factions apart. Will the two original tribes set aside episodes of hatred to gang up against the UN tribe? What will the UN tribe do when this inevitably happens and they realise they are heavily out-gunned on both sides? Global politics as entertainment, the unholy alliance the world has been craving all these years!

As you can well see, my ideas for this new wave of hyper-real reality shows are cutting- edge stuff. This is TV with a conscience, a finger on the pulse and one eye on the ratings.

With this triumvirate of awesome I fully expect the offers to be rolling in before it is too late, and real events have overtaken the reality television. I am standing by the phone, poised and waiting, so call now. Now. Come on, ring now. Ring, damn you phone! Ring!

- NZ Herald

James Griffin

James Griffin is a columnist for Canvas magazine.

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