January 6, 2009

Giving Reality TV the Nerd Treatment*

I'm a college woman who buckles down to study when I'm at school.  However, when I'm on break I succumb to the temptation of reality television.  Mainly, competitive reality television.  I feel like the shows that require people who have talent make better entertainment then stuff like Survivor or Laguna Beach.  I've been watching a lot recently since I lack homework.  The other day I was thinking "Hey, if we had better nerdy introductions to the general public, no one would look at me weird when I say I play role playing games."  Seriously, people think I'm a sexual deviant when I mention that.  They get even more scared off when I mention dice.  

Moving on, here are some competitive reality TV shows that could use a nerd treatment to help introduce the general public to our favorite subculture.

Top Chef

I've been keeping up with the recent season while on break.  This is where I got the idea to give the nerd treatment to reality TV shows. 
Concept For Those Who Don't Know: A number of chefs duke it out each episode to prove who's "Top Chef".  Sometimes they make individual dishes to get judged on, sometimes they do team meals.  Each week there is a theme for the main competition, and each week one chef is eliminated from the show until the winner is named and rewarded.   
The Nerd Treatment: I think that for when there are 12 contestants left, divide them into teams of four, and then each make a four to five course meal based on a Sci-Fi television show.  Each team would be given a dossier about each show, its central themes and some famous episodes.  My picks are Star Trek: TOS, The Twilight Zone, The X-Files, and Lost In Space.  I think sticking to old classics helps make this more of a challenge and an even playing field rather than stuff that's been running in the last ten years.  I'm tempted to replace the X-Files with either Blake's 7 or Red Dwarf, but for a TV show you want something that is relatable to a larger audience.  American's unfortunately don't know the brilliance of old british Sci-fi.  Well, possibly Tom Baker's Doctor Who.  That might work.

Top Design

I like this show, although I'm afraid it doesn't contain the same appeal or spunk as the other shows mentioned.  The subject matter is a lot more subtle, so I'm afraid not everyone will see it in the genius that it is.
Concept For Those Who Don't Know: Interior designers strut their stuff in hopes of having the "top design".  Each week the designers take a space and make it beautiful in their own aesthetic according to the theme of the challenge.  Each week a designer is eliminated until one is left standing to collect the prize.
The Nerd Treatment: Redo the offices of an RPG company.  I'm personally rooting for a company other than Wizards of the Coast or White Wolf, but something tells me it would be one of those two.  This would force the designers to figure out what the company is about, and I would love to see some dice incorporation.  Go polyhedral furniture!  I think this is great since interior design is like RPGs. Both are about telling a story, even if the method is different.

The Apprentice

Okay, if you don't like the Donald, don't worry.  He's not part of the plan.  I like the format of the show.  Factoid:  The first winner of the show was from Chicago, and chose to facilitate a project in Chicago.
Concept For Those Who Don't Know: Businessmen compete for a chance to work for the tycoon they look up to.  Each week the competitors are divided in teams to complete a task, one team wins and someone is eliminated on the losing team until only one man stands to take the position.
The Nerd Treatment: The Apprenticeship is in the video game development world.  A company that is willing to invest in innovation would be a great one for this show.  EA is big enough that it wouldn't suffer much if something went wrong with the hiring, maybe they could do it (though I'm not sure how good of an idea this is).  The competitors would have to help with an E3 event, present a new project, design a lead hero that is marketable to the 16-30 age group that is so lucrative for the industry... the list goes on.  This would prove to be entertaining because not only would this involve business smarts, but creativity as well.

Project Runway

Can't you tell I love Bravo's programming?  Project Runway proves to show how talent and competition put together make a fantastic show.  Love it!
Concept For Those That Don't Know: Fashion designers make an outfit each week fitting a different theme or set of parameters to please the judges.  Each week one is eliminated until there is just one after New York's famous Fashion Week, where the final 3 show their collections.  One wins the glory and the boost to his or her career.
The Nerd Treatment: Take each captain from a popular Sci-fi show, take his personality and his look, and make a strong feminine look to counter it.  Unfortunately I can't think of any female captain's that are famous other than Janeway, so I'm lacking in that information.  The first ones to come to mind are The Doctor (Doctor Who), Picard (Star Trek: TNG), Mal (Firefly), Kirk (Star Trek: TOS).  I'm sure there are more to add but I feel these are essential to add to the list.  I would love to see the difference between Kirk and Picard, since the personalities of the captains would be essential to the design.  Also, its hard to retool that uniform to look chic.  I want to see someone do it.

America's Next Top Model

I was fortunate enough to meet Sarah from season 9 (who's pictured above, top, third to the left) through a friend.  She's a cool person, funny and smart.  In fact, I think there is a lot of smarts and talent involved in being a good model.  However you can be smart and crazy, like Tyra Banks.  Woo child!
Concept For Those Who Don't Know: Women compete each week in a themed photo shoot or fashion show, utilizing different skills handy for becoming a model.  Each week one is eliminated until one is left standing as America's next "top model".
The Nerd Treatment: Role playing game characters!  There are two ways you can go about this.  Either you can do characters from different game settings, or you can do different characters from the same setting.  I prefer the latter, from a game that has a modern swing with some versatility.  Unknown Armies is the first to come to mind.  Classic Dungeons and Dragons would be cool too, but easy to make too cheeky.  Unfortunately a lot of indie games would be too vague to use, but there are other options out there I'm sure.

*Hey producers: You are NOT given permission to use these ideas without my written consent, not that you would read this dribble anyway.

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