Not all that smart, after all
In a recent column, we singled out the new TV show, “Stupid Man, Smart Phone,” for its unique and “earcatching” title, which winkingly entices viewers to watch it.
So, how did it pan out, upon actual viewing? We caught the new program last week and can thus share these initial reactions:
The reality show lives up to its title, with its “nerd” and “loser” host, Russell Kane, being goofily and goonily “forced” to survive on a deserted island, with only his (questionable) wits and (more reliable) smartphone for guide and savior.
Perhaps sensing that just one clueless loser flailing and failing at various basic tasks and challenges would be a big viewing bore, the telecast provided its resident nerd with a companion, a female athlete, Jenny Jones—who all too predictably turned out to be a better coper, problem solver and survivor than our dubious hero.
In fact, even our antihero himself admitted that, when it came to “manning up” and achieving the reality challenge’s arduous objectives, his female counterpart had him beat—to heck!
That was an initially funny comeuppance—but, as the show continued to unreel, viewers were dismayed to discover that it was turning out to be a one-trick pony, or a comedy caper with just one “running gag”—which was elaborated on in only slightly different ways, to the point of satiety.
The program’s resident survivor and guinea pig may have been chosen because he was an ostensibly goofy and funny guy—but, his kind of humor “traveled” poorly, and had dismayingly short legs.
Too many of the island challenge’s tests were solved by the female athlete, and the goofy guy made things worse by behaving in an exceptionally helpless and clueless manner.
Why, he couldn’t even efficiently chop off the head of a fish they were grilling for dinner!
Naturally, when they had to build a raft out of some lengths of bamboo and a couple of plastic bags as additional floaters, he was all-thumbs and left 90 percent of the actual work to her!
It may have been momentarily bemusing to see the male of the species being so literally, stupidly shown up by his female partner—but, the point was made and made again so relentlessly that it got to be a pain in the viewing posterior.
Alright, already, we get it—now, can we move on to something else?
While Jenny did better than the show’s resident klutz, she still couldn’t save the program from racking up diminishing returns in terms of sustained viewership.
She may have been better-coordinated and a more creative problem solver, but she simply wasn’t a very good performer.
She did her tasks too efficiently and drily, adding little in terms of entertainment value, color and “flavor.”
As for the program’s use of the smartphone as problem-solver and savior, the host’s gadget did share mini how-to demos of raft-building and other survival tactics—but, again not very divertingly.
All told, therefore, “Stupid Man, Smart Phone” initially comes off as a reality TV show that is blessed with a wittingly enticing title—but has thus far failed to live up to its “delicious” possibilities.
That phone, or at least the production people using it, may not be all that smart, after all …