‘Old’ shows field extreme gambits


“AMERICAN IDOL.” Are more radical innovations called for?

Some popular TV shows have been telecasting for so many seasons that they’ve become predictable, resulting in their decline in viewership. For instance, “American Idol” has been on the small screen for more than a decade, hence its efforts to renew public interest by hiring new jurors, adding novel features and portions, etc.

Despite these and other gambits, however, the singing tilt’s viewership figures have continued to dip, while those of new competitions like “The Voice” have gone up. Perhaps more radical and even “shocking” innovations and departures are called for?

If so, the “old” singing tilt’s producers may want to take a gander at another “ancient” TV competition’s much more extreme gambits to remain fresh and “trending”: “America’s Next Top Model” has also been on the air “forever,” and has of late been stunning viewers with loopy, far-out and downright bizarre moves, like its gimmick for introducing a new batch of Top Model aspirants by having them make their individual entrances—while ensconced in a giant plastic bubble, in which they tried to stride, pirouette and catwalk for all they were worth on the surface of a swimming pool, without falling flat on their pretty faces and bottoms—!

Alas, many of the contestants did lose their balance, to everyone’s bemusement. Of course, the show’s producers explained that the spaced-out concept was intended to “test” the poor aspirants’ ability to take on any modeling challenge, no matter how bizarre, and to remain poised and pretty all throughout.

—Oh, OK, but we all know that the novelty factor and its attendant appeal to viewers figured strongly in the gimmick’s reason for being, and being thought up. —It really made viewers sit up and watch!

Another long-running competition on TV, “Project Runway,” has similarly thought up its own attention-grabbing gimmicks to remain fresh and one step ahead of the competition, especially now that its format is being “emulated” by other productions (like the new “Project Accessory” show).

Not too long ago, for instance, we caught a “Project Runway” challenge that had its surviving contestants whip up outfits for—models on stilts! That’s right, the models had to prance up and down a catwalk on elevated leg extensions that made them look 10 feet tall, so the designers were obliged to come up with appropriately far-out creations to complement the models’ taller and larger than life projection! Yes, it was weird and circus-y and downright bizzare, but it  did get people talking about the TV tilt again!

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