Monday, January 04, 2010

Top Ten of 2009 - Reality Shows


#1 - So you think you can Dance Canada? came back with it’s second season, and it was miles above the American version. The audition process was great, the choreographers and dancers were breathless, and the quality of the show was fantastic. It must be the Canadian touch, but the show is much warmer and fuzzier than the US version, and at the same time we don’t seem to be afraid to push the envelope when it comes to getting the dancers down and dirty. Our ratings and standards are not quite the same as those down south and there was more than one guest who commented on being able to do stuff that would not pass the FCC in the States. Not only were our Judges impressed with the quality of dance, but we even had Mia Michael’s endorsement (and it appears, continuing support) and even a marriage proposal. For quality alone, this show is the benchmark for dance and I can hardly wait for the next season!

#2 – Survivor – is still the King of the Jungle and just had one of the best editions with super villain Russell and the rest of the gang in Samoa. The casting was great this time around and there was some really interesting game play from Russell, in fact he ran things from day 1 and managed to alienate and piss everyone off so that, even though he played one of the best games ever, he didn’t win due to the social component on the game. It’s all about how you play the game and who ends up on the Jury. I am really looking forward to the Heroes vs. Villains edition coming up next !

#3 - Dancing with the Stars – is still a force to be reckoned with and I absolutely love how it has brought dance back on the air waves. The professional dancers awe me with their technique and ability to teach, and the Stars are always a surprise. It is not always my favourite who wins (more often than naught it is another who gets that big old Mirror Ball trophy), but I love watching people try something new or showcase some hidden talent. The show has a pretty good balance, some great guest performances and one of the best hosts in reality television, Tom Bergeron, who has a quick wit, acid tongue and has gotten out some real zingers. It’s time to give this man and Emmy for his outstanding work.

#4 - The Amazing Race - is still as amazing as ever and the production team consistently chooses a good variety of teams covering a nice cross section of the population. They threw a couple of twists in this last edition, eliminating one team out of the gate and making it harder for teams to catch up if they survive a non Phil elimination round. The locales were stunning, the challenges interesting and there was so much drama this year. I think they went overboard with all of the Type A personalities, but there were many teams to route for, and it was interesting to see Teams eliminate themselves by error this time around. It is one of the reality staples here at Couch Potato Central and I look forward to each new edition.

#5 - Top Chef – The Masters edition got me hooked on competition cooking shows (again) and I was in awe watching such high calibre chefs doing the Quick Fire Challenges and putting together some very amazing food. Next was the Vegas competition, and I devoured the past season in Vegas with much gusto and hungrily looking forward to the next one. The mix of chefs was great, and per usual, Bravo made sure to have several gay contestants in their mix and added a ton of drama to the flavour. I think it goes with the territory that a lot of professional chefs are a tad intense. Bring it on, I am ready for more!

#6 - The Soup - is must see TV and my week is really not complete with out it. Joel McHale is hilarious, and delivers some of the most scathing commentaries on the subject matter of reality TV. Not only does it make my hit list every week, but it has more often than naught, shown me a show (usually one of those terrible Guilty Pleasures) that I have to check out. Did I already say how funny and sexy Joel is? If you like your humour dark and cutting, have an extreme dislike for Ryan Seacrest, and no fear to offend any one in the entertainment industry (and that includes Oprah, which is usually a death sentence for anyone), then I invite you to my weekly viewing party. It’s meaty.

#7 – America’s Best Dance Crew – I know that there is a ton of dance related reality shows on this list, but it is the stuff that I really enjoy and it has been such an enormous pleasure to have so much to watch on TV. There is a curious almost incestuous relationship between this show and So you think you can Dance? and Dancing with the Stars, as they all share common choreographers, dancers and even Judges at times, and you get to see some great performances. It’s all very great stuff, extremely original and unlike any of the other dance competitions on the air and well worth the watch. The Judging is hard to follow at times, but seeing the blood, sweat and tears that these crews put into their performances is astounding and some of the movements are out of this world.I am not sure how things will work out this year with Shane Sparks being in hot water at this time, but I am looking forward to the next season to see some slamming Crews bust a move or three.

#8 – Battle of the Blades had a great first season and was such a Canadian success story that it deserved a spot on the list. You can’t get much more Canadian than hockey, and pairing up hockey players with figure skaters made for some interesting (and dangerous) moments, and it was stunning to see these big hulking guys trying to be graceful on the ice in figure skates. I hope it will be back next season, and would love to see them expand the competition to include female hockey players teamed up with male figure skaters and make it more gender inclusive. It was very entertaining, a surprising success and a whole lot of fun. Gotta love that wholesome TV thing eh?

#9 - RuPaul’s Drag Race – How could you go wrong in getting the most fabulous Drag Queens and Female Impersonators on the same stage to compete for a crown? The humour was deadly, the competition fierce and all the drama! I could not ask for more out of a trashy reality show and was glued to the TV every episode. There is some huge talent out there, and it was great to see some of the greats get national exposure, and there is always the catch phrase “ Now you have to lip synch for your life” that I can not get out of my head. I can hardly wait for season 2 !

#10 – So you think you can Dance? pushed things a tad too far this year and after a great summer edition, tried too hard and came back right away with a Fall edition. The Judging panel changed, and it was Nigel, Mary and Adam who were there every week. There was the failed attempt (mercifully) of trying to get Paula Abdul on the panel and Mia Michaels left the American show. With all of that, an abbreviated season that finished off bizarrely, and a set change that does not justice to the series, it suddenly felt like it had no heart and out of place. What was once the bastion of dance on TV suddenly has become a bit of a circus and I hope it recovers. I only kept it on the list because of the quality of dance and some of the incredible dancers that participated this year and not for the rest of the production that has seemed to lost it’s focus. Here is hoping that the next season has some of the heart that the earlier seasons did.

Almost made the List: Dance your Ass off, The Sing Off

Brilliant yet cancelled: The Cho Show

Fallen from Grace: Kathy Griffin – My Life on the D List, Project Runway

Biggest Disappointment: The Fashion Show, Sheer Genius, I’m a Celebrity, get me out of here!