I was lucky this year. I just happened to walk away from the computer at a time I am normally on and started watching television on a particular Tuesday night and discovered that The Joe Schmo Show had returned to Spike this year after being off the schedule for almost a decade.And it was worth the wait.
For those of you who haven't heard of this show, the premise is that it is a reality show with one real contestant competing against a group of actors who are all portraying various types of stereotypical reality show players.
In the case of the third season of the Joe Schmo Show, the fake reality show was a competition for a job as a bounty hunter called "The Full Bounty" and the real contestant was an awesome guy from Pittsburgh named Chase. Against him were actors portraying an asshole, a confidante, a widow, an ex-model, a buff black guy, an overachiever, a deaf woman with her interpreter and an ex-con (along with Lorenzo Lamas playing a more egotistical version of himself), and for the most part they all played their parts well.
I like the fact that the real contestant that they pick is a really nice person, the kind of person whose ethics and kindness would probably prevent them from winning most reality shows, because they are smart and able to play the game, but they also don't want to screw someone over really bad. I know there have been real shows that have been won by such sympathetic characters, but it generally isn't the case.
The Schmo always seems to be the kind of people that you'd want to know in real life. And while it is a show about fooling people, the way it is presented is never in a way that makes their mark seem stupid or like a fool. It is a performance for their benefit, a life changing event that has been designed just for them, which is awesome.
In many ways, it seems like a much zanier version of The Game than an homage to The Truman Show, and that is why I like it so much. While they are putting the Schmo through a very strange experience, you can tell that the producers and actors genuinely like him (and looking at the twitter stream for Chase, you can see that he is still talking to a lot of the people he was on the show with, which is really cool).
I have so many questions that I am hoping will be answered when this season is finally released on DVD, since there was quite a bit of stuff cut out from broadcast that I think could show up as extra features. It was a great ride as a viewer and I can only imagine how fun it turned out to be in retrospect for Chase.