Friday, March 15, 2013

Show Review: Strip Search

I don't watch a LOT of reality TV, but I LOVE the products from Penny Arcade. They make video game-based web comics and have been doing so since 1998. And this year they released their first reality game show called Strip Search! 12 web comic artists enter a house to compete against each other for $5000 and a year embedded in the Penny Arcade empire.

All in all, the show is rather mediocre. It's not bad, but it's not great. The production value is as high-quality as anything put out by A&E, Discovery, and NBC. But the host has absolutely NO personality. His voice drones through the Voice Over segments, and when he gets in front of the contestants, he looks bored and completely unsure of himself. Like having fun would disrupt what should be an entertaining, possibly funny show.

The contestants are all great, and I can't think of a better group to kick off this new series. The first set of eliminations intrigued me, and I think they picked the right show format. One that engages the viewers who may not be interested in comic artists or the process of running an online business.

The editing, like the host, leaves much to be desired. The show has been split into 12-18 minute episodes that "air" every Tuesday and Friday. But many of the segments within each episode take far too long. The opening credits alone are nearly a minute long, which is an eternity in broadcasting (listen for dead air on the radio and you'll see what I mean).

Now, the creators' justification for such short episodes is that the "average" internet viewer doesn't have the patience for a full 44 minutes (the average length of an hour-long show, minus the adds). But each episode is essentially a segment that would fit snuggly in the one-hour format. The problem there is that it doesn't work on the shorter format. Watching a reality game show is supposed to be exciting. Energetic. And suspenseful. But there's so much down time between the games where the bored host drones on about the activities of the contestants before jumping into the next challenge. Not enough time is spent getting to know the players, either, as they compete. Not enough cut-aways to get inside their heads.

And when they finally focus in on one of the competitor's tasks, they practically ignore the drama going through their minds.

All in all, I think it's a fun show, and I'll watch the entire thing. I hope it gets better next season, but I don't think they should change the game format. Just the broadcast format. In fact, a friend of mine (who tried to get into this season) said that the creators SHOULD have kept everyone in the house for the entire show, tallying up points to see who wins in the end. The problem with that is it discourages competition, takes away too much of the motivation to succeed with EVERY challenge. And this season, it would rob the show with the little drama that does exist and make it unpalatable to all but the most interested viewers. Mostly people who are into web-comics.

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