‘Flashy’ new TV format clicks with viewersBy Nestor U. Torre
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The “flash mob” is a new development on the social and entertainment scenes, an ostensibly impromptu gathering of many people who are “suddenly” inspired to break into song and dance. Pop “historians” aver that this began at rock concerts, where members of the audience reacted as one by waving lighted lighters or cell phones in the air.
Other antecedents include the sequenced “waves” of sports fans in an arena or ball field, exuberantly expressing their delight at a key goal or victory.
The flash mob phenomenon may have begun spontaneously, but it’s now been taken to the heights of mega-production by its current modes of expression, paced by the new show, “Mobbed,” shown here Wednesdays on Star World.
In a sense, this program’s format is reminiscent of shows like “Punk’d,” only this time the objective is not to fool the victim to make viewers laugh, but to surprise a lucky person with a great emotional gift, with enthusiastic connivance of hundreds of rehearsed participants in a public place like a mall or entertainment venue.
The first time we caught the show, the beneficiary of the memorable surprise it had in store was a man who hadn’t seen his father for decades.
Not only did the show reunite him with his long-lost and much-missed dad, but it did so in a very dramatic manner, with “passersby” actually in on the surprise and masking the father’s appearance with their choreographed dance moves, until the last possible second.
Well, you can imagine how overwhelmed the beneficiary was at the unexpected reunion, and you can bet that the show’s many cameras took advantage of the deeply emotional moment, recording it from multiple angles, for the whole viewing world to feelingly empathize with.
Last month, the recipient of the show’s unexpected bounty was a married man who was surprised by his wife, with the production’s full connivance, with the news that, after many years of trying, she was finally pregnant with their first child. The show didn’t have the same emotional impact as the previous telecast, but it was similarly fun to watch.
It didn’t work as well, because it was over-produced. The show’s production team, headed by host Howie Mandell, took days to think up an elaborate ruse that involved hundreds of dancing “passersby,” lots of “hinting” images and clues related to the “baby” motif, a little girl who interviewed the clueless father-to-be on how he felt about having children of his own, etc.
The production got “A” for Effort, but it could have come off better if it hadn’t been so hyper-eager to make the wife’s announcement of her pregnancy a major moment to remember.
Well, win some, lose some. The point to emphasize here is that the new program concept can work well occasionally, if it doesn’t go overboard in building up to and “framing” its emotional surprise.
The new daddy-to-be may have been more flabbergasted and thrown for a loop than deeply moved, but the guy who embraced his father, after many years of looking for him, hit throbbingly empathetic viewers where they lived and breathed!
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