Friday, January 21, 2011


I will confess: it is not really one of my favorite shows. 

As a matter of fact, I still couldn't figure out why and how ... despite all the so-called complex and convoluted procedures before a television program is approved by the executives who live atop Rapunzel's Tower ... did this afternoon program get the green light at all.  Unashamedly, it is a reproduction (nay, I stand corrected: it is a reinterpretation or an update) of German Moreno's now iconic That's Entertainment. I would have understood why a show like that existed in the eighties and nineties of the past century, but ... wait a minute: it's 2011, right?  I just wanted to confirm my fears.

The trouble with being a gym addict is that every late afternoon, I find myself either on a stepper or a treadmill.  That means I am literally plugged to a machine, watching tv shows on an assortment of monitors suspended above the plethora of exercise equipment in front of me. And that is why I end up watching this show.  Well, this or a sappy Korean telenovela on another channel ... or maybe the love story of baboons on NatGeo.  

And this is why out of having nothing better to do, I end up watching an entire tribe of young actors and actresses all hyped up and behaving as if they were all overdosing on Gatorade while prancing all over the stage.  Admitted, some of them can sing. Some of them can dance. Most of them are ...uh, there. This makes it all quite an ordeal to watch spared of the fact that some of the female hosts have been trained to speak on camera following the Valerie Concepcion school of "Scream your lungs out to express your enthusiasm"-school of Wowowowee hosting.

Youthful energy is supposed to be infectious: nothing is more delightful than to exposed to the electricity of young minds and hearts savoring their love for life.  But why is it that in this case, the energy seems to induced and choreographed?  

Watching these kids can be quite an ordeal especially when, after a while, you realize that not only do they all look alike ... but they talk alike, act alike and seemed to have been spawned from some assembly line of a clone-making machine. You cannot distinguish one dude or dudette from the other --- which was probably why those who have been anointed to have speaking lines or do hosting chores have microphones with their name tags literally attached to them.  This was meant to avoid that inevitable problem of the audience peering into the boob tube and asking, "Sino siya?"

Everybody in that show seems to be having a good time.  The viewer, especially of my age group, feels like a disturbed parents peering into a window where a bunch of tweens and teens having one of those weekend parties without the guidance of adults but with full access to all available benefits.  So what you have is this tribe of freshly scrubbed beautiful faces singing, dancing, screaming and cajoling the public to have fun. There is also a live television audience mainly composed to females of the same age range, carrying the proverbial banners and posters (professing their specific choice of crushes or obsessions) while drooling, screaming and manifesting behavior that would make Charles Darwin very happy about his proposed theory.

This is when I realized that although we live in the age of cellular phones that can practically do everything except microwave a slab of beef, the audiences of such shows have not changed at all.  The hysterical fans of the age of Elvis are still the epileptic-looking diehards who fill the audiences of television studios dedicated to making themselves look like fools all in the name of proud adulation.

I have grown accustomed to the show since this is the only form of entertainment I have while plodding on the treadmill.  

But yesterday --- I was completely shocked by the twist that they were threatening to announce even as early on with the program's teasers. While the entire cast of sweet beautiful teens were gathered on the stage, the Business Unit Head of the show together with one of the Top Honchos of the Network announced to the kids that they were being given one month to shape up or the show will be canceled.

I almost fell off the treadmill upon hearing this mind-boggling development. They were announcing the pending cancellation of a television show as PART of the program! Well, this is definitely new. This is definitely so innovative especially when close-up shots of the kids reacting to the possibility that they can be jobless in four weeks.

Suddenly this teenage bacchanalia was transformed into a brutal reality show where the vestal virgins were literally humiliated and the Prince Charmings were nothing short of castrated.  Viewers' feedback sent via email or Twitter or homing pigeons were read by the Business Unit head naming particular performers as they were mercilessly bashed, dissed and close to pulverized by the vile comments of the non-fans. 

Before the eyes of the public --- or whatever percentage of audience share the show possessed --- the young actors and actresses were humiliated to tears. One of the main hosts was brutally demoted to being one of the chorus.  A promising young male singer was mocked and accused of requiring singing lessons. And so on and so forth.

I did not know how to react to this strategy of pumping excitement to the development of the program.

The announcement of management is clear: shape up or ship out. The twist was implemented for the good of the young actors who were not delivering to the audience (and apparently not yielding the ratings required). As in any case, it is the performers who get the brunt and the blame --- and not anyone behind the camera who may have concocted this whole form of entertainment revival. After all, it is the kids being sold ... or trained ... or programmed ... for a better future in the business.

If they do not deliver the ratings or the quality of performance, they they are not cut out to occupy broadcast time.  And the network wants the whole world to know that they have a bunch on duds on their hands.

When I go back to the gym on Monday, my eyes will be tacked on what will transpire in this show.

Do I think that management is justified to threaten the kids with cancellation? Well, that is their call.  That is their business option. But so many careers (whether real or imagined) will take a windfall or a redirection if and when the studio admits that it has miscalculated the saleability of their future young stars.

Worse yet is the thought that amidst all the hoopla, all the singing and the dancing ... and all these young fans behaving like they need exorcists to shake them back to reality, the awful truth is that there is no next generation to inherit the mantle or even the thrones of the demigods and demi-goddesses of media.

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