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December 07, 2004 - Image 5

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2004-12-07

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Tuesday
November 7, 2004
arts.michigandaily.com
artspage@michigandaily.com

Pdr aitn
Ric S

5

... . ......

DOUG
WERNERT

Break up the reunion

When a popular television pro-
gram decides to call it quits,
a couple things are bound
to happen: One of the show's main
characters will go on to star in a series
which will inevitably fail, someone else
will have a few special appearances on
another show, and the remainder of the
cast will drift away into obscurity and
be forgotten by the viewing public. But
then, something will happen that will
thrust these people into the spotlight
for one more night. I'm talking about
the reunion, a TV event that's supposed
to be special and able to rekindle the
magic of the program it is celebrating.
Unfortunately, it fails.
The reunion is a good idea in theo-
ry. By bringing back the old favorites
one more time to reminisce about the
good old days, viewers will hopefully
look back on the show more fondly. It's
quick, easy and usually gets a good rat-
ing. However, nothing really new comes
from these specials, and when viewers
see their beloved characters again, it's
a disappointment. The actors are well
past their prime, obviously just trying to
ride out their past success for as long as
possible. Why tarnish the legacy?
Last month, two wildly popular series
from the last two decades held reunion
specials: "Dallas" - the most popu-
lar show of the '80s - and "Seinfeld"
- the most successful show of the '90s.
I watched them both; mainly because
I was a huge fan of both shows, but I
also wanted to see for myself if Michael
Richards and Larry Hagman were still,
in fact, actually alive.
The "Dallas" theme was played,
and its two-hour special began. Since
I think I'm the only college student in
America to see every episode of this
prime-time soap opera, I was look-
ing forward to seeing the old cast once
again. The downside came in the actual
program. The event was nothing more
than a hokey, corny abomination of a
show, with more obvious facelifts and
plastic surgeries than actual humorous
moments. The cast looked way over-the-

hill, and despite their tremendous acting
ability from 20 years ago, the segments
with banter between the former stars
were grade-school-play bad.
"Seinfeld," on the other hand, failed
to live up to expectations by not being
a reunion at all. Sure, Jerry, Elaine,
George and Kramer were all there, but
the special was more of a look back at
how the show began, including inter-
views with the cast mixed in with old
footage. Michael Richards looked old
and Jason Alexander hardly seemed
like the same guy who played George
Costanza so brilliantly. Sure, the docu-
mentary was interesting, but it seemed
like it was an extra on a DVD set. Their
actual reunion on "Oprah" was much
better and was what everyone wanted to
see anyway.
So then how do you make a great
TV reunion? The answer is simple: you
don't. Let the show live on in syndica-
tion and let the actors be known for their
work on the show instead of what they
became afterwards. Consider "Saved
by the Bell." Don't have one of the
best shows of our generation be ruined
because "Showgirls" star Elizabeth
Berkley, fledgling comic Dustin Dia-
mond and Dennis Haskins (Mr. Beld-
ing) need to get on TV one more time.
Let the episode where Jessie overdoses
on caffeine pills stand proud on its own.
It's earned it.
People watch reunion specials, so it
looks like there will be plenty more in
the future. But when the cast members
of "Full House" come together one last
time - which, with Bob Saget, John
Stamos, Dave Coulier and the Olsen
twins, should be done just for comedy's
sake - and make fools of themselves,
you'll never see the show in the same
acceptable light again. Don't do that to
"Full House" or the actors.
Except maybe Stamos.
- Although Doug hates TV
reunions, he is anxiously awating
Jaleel White's return. E-mail his sup-
port at dwernert@umich.edu.

Bravo's 'Runway' struts onto reality TV scene

ing designer Michael Kors and Nina
Garcia, the fashion editor of Elle maga-
zine. Every show ends with a runway
rejection scene.
The last designer
standing will win Project
the resources need- Runway
ed to start a cloth- Tuesdays at
ing line, including 10 p.m.
$100,000 and a Bravo
photo spread in
Elle.
"Project Runway" is good, even if
most of the entertainment is derived
from the inane qualities of all involved.

These contestants form perhaps the
most eccentric group ever assembled on
one reality show. The pilot's challenge
had the designers using only supermar-
ket products to make an evening outfit.
Daniel, the first designer sent home,
admitted he was trying to channel the
simplicity of Picasso through his gar-
bage-bag and butcher-paper ensemble.
Austin, the most outlandish dresser,
looks like Andy Dick's long lost cousin
and makes a whole dress using just duct
tape and corn husks.
Model Heidi Klum is unintention-
ally hilarious as the host of the series.

As if struggling to keep a straight face
wasn't enough, she always has a look
of extreme concentration and seems
to be fishing for her own catchphrase.
Nominees include: "Fashion can be a
real bitch sometimes" and "Auf Wieder-
sehen." The latter, said during the first
elimination, provided the most unex-
pectedly funny moment of the pilot.
It doesn't take much to make a decent
reality show. As long as there's a good
premise, interesting host and out-there
contestants, almost any reality show can
be entertaining."Project Runway" easily
makes the cut.

'Real Gilligan's' should
remain missing at sea

~I f 1

By Kevin Hollifield
Daily Arts Writer
Just sit right back and you'll hear a
tale; a tale of a writer who wants an hour
of his life back.
"The Real Gilligan's Island" makes
the original look like a masterpiece,
which is saying something. While the
classic sitcom had a camp appeal, this
spin-off is noth-
ing more than an
attempt to cash The Real
in on the reality Gilligan's
craze. Island
In the pilot, the Tuesdays at 8 p.m.
audience learns of
casting calls for TBS
two teams of real-
life versions of the original cast. In the
case of Ginger, the term "movie star"
is used in its loosest form, as Rachel
Hunter ("Are You Hot?") and Nicole
Eggert ("Baywatch") are the B-listers
added to the cast. Upon arriving on the
island, the crews learn that there are
two identical teams, creatively named
Green and Gold. The castaways com-
pete in challenges, both as teams and
against their doppelgangers, so avoid
banishment and win the opportunity to
be rescued. Presumably, the losers will
be left on the island.

As on the original "Gilligan's
Island," the millionaires receive beds
made of cement, and the Gilligans and
Skippers have the always-popular two-
tiered hammocks. Other props from
the original series, such as radios, are
provided to give the audience a feeling
of nostalgia.
Viewers will notice the dramatic real-
ity-show conventions from the start. The
Green Team's castaways appear to have
been selected to fight each other as soon
as they arrive on the island. Meanwhile
the Gold Team's Gilligan and Mary-
Ann begin to get intimate, which almost
appears staged, trying to capitalize on
the media's attention to Rob and Amber
from "Survivor."
The original "Gilligan's Island"
drew viewers while being universally
panned by critics. The idea for this
show, however, looked terrible from
the beginning to everyone. Clearly
"borrowing" from another stranded-
island game, the show is nothing more
than "Survivor" with the contestants
in costumes. While a reality version of
"Gilligan's" may have appeared a natu-
ral fit to producers, a reality version of
a critical classic may have held more
possibilities. If viewers and critics dis-
agreed on the merits of the original,
the decision this time around should be
unanimous. Viewers should avoid this
"three-hour tour."

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