Saturday, May 20, 2006

The Reality Show I'd Love to See Cross the Atlantic

I was always a big fan of The Mole, which started its life as a reality show in Belgium before spreading all over the world. I think the thing about it that appealed to me the most was the fact that it wasn't so much about popularity or alliances, but what each individual player was able to figure out. Well, that and the fact that the challenges often required more than courage or strength to fulfill in the wider world(after all, contestants were out and about in various European locales.

Somewhat along those lines, though vastly more realistic and darker was the BBC's reality series Spy, which pitted 8 youngish contestants to work their way through some of the exercises that real life spies-in-training at MI5 and the CIA would go through. The people involved have to be very smart, quick on their feet and have some moral ambiguity, as some of their tasks are tricky(like getting into a complete stranger's residence to get a photo of a certain room). Elimination was done by the three trainers, two former British agents and an American one, based on their past performance, and those times were some of the best television I've seen on this type of show.

It was atmospheric, intense and very compelling television, and I would love to see an American network do it right. That is the important part: do it right. It doesn't need to be fluffed up, it doesn't need a million dollar prize at the end, it just has to be realistic. Spy was quality television, and that is something American networks need more than ever.

Because deep down, doesn't everyone want to be a Spy?

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