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Movable feasts on television

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So many channels on free and cable TV are competing for viewers’ attention these days that the hundreds and even thousands of programs they produce do anything and everything to stand out in the madding, teeming crowd.

All sorts of innovative program formats are conjured up for the delectation of millions of viewers, each one promising originality, surprises and “unique selling factor” gimmicks galore!

One unusual way that some productions have thought up to stand out is to present themselves as out-of-the-box, out-of-studio “movable feasts” in terms of the unique shooting or taping locations they have opted to emanate from. While most programs are taped in production studios, an innovative few have opted to shoot “on the run,” like a once popular game show in Singapore which was taped in a taxi cab (“Cash Cab”), with the quizmaster as driver and his passengers answering his head-scratchers for a nifty prize.

Only last year, we caught a local version of that “studio on wheels” format, with the taxi replaced by a bigger jeepney that was driven around the streets of Manila (TV5’s “Jeepney Jackpot”), providing both contestants and program staffers with a bigger space to work in.

Elsewhere on Asian TV, we’ve watched programs taped on huge cruise ships that veritably look like small floating cities! These scenes shot inside the huge vessels are interesting enough, but what really provides the best movable visual feast are shots of the cruise ship’s varied stops, where passengers disembark and go on colorful day trips.

Smaller versions of those cruises are also to be seen on some TV travel shows, where posh is replaced by practicality, and the ability of the peripatetic program host to use all sorts of sea and land transportation to discover unique nook and crannies far off the beaten tourist track. In addition, we’ve caught interview shows taped in the cabin of a cable car as it “flies” from Singapore proper to the resort island of Sentosa.

Long ago, on a travel edition of “Two for the Road,” we joined Elvira Manahan and director Maria Montelibano in one such scenic, “flying” interview feature, and it really was quite a trip! Most recently, we watched a variation on the cable-car format, an interview show titled “High Flyers,”  that regularly conducts interviews with visiting VIPs from one of the cabins of a giant Ferris wheel.

Finally, the iconic comic, Jerry Seinfeld, has chosen to make his TV comeback by way of an exceedingly portable—and transportable—talk show in which he drives around the metro as he shoots the breeze with some riotously and outrageously funny friends, top comedians one and all (“Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee”).

What could possibly top that? Interviews shot in helicopters, under the sea in a small submarine or way out in space? What would really take the cake, if they could lick the noise problem, would be a talk fest  done on a motorcycle trip, one on one! And, if it were done habal-habal style, it could even be tweaked into a panel show!

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