Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Disappointment Has A Name

And it is On The Lot

(If you haven’t seen it, you might want to skip this post…It is long and grueling and deals only with On The Lot.)

Tonight I sat through an hour long tribal council with no flashbacks and more commercial breaks than the last half hour of a movie on the USA network. That's not entertainment, and I won’t be coming back for more. I have to assume that financing a number of mini-films each week is expensive, so it makes sense to have two night in order to garner twice the advertisers. Tuesday "elimination" nights must be comparatively cheap to produce, but this felt so incredibly manipulative I can’t believe the ratings will be good after the first week. We’ve heard the scary tension music before. The Eva-Longoria-look-alike host’s patter is annoying and repetitive, and I’m already beginning to hate her… though I believe this to be through no fault of her own, as I doubt she is writing her own material, or scheduling the commercial breaks.

I’m sorry to say this, as I was really intrigued by the concept. I applaud the fact that so far they are not showing too much of the interpersonal conflicts that make up so many of these shows, so that people can actually vote on the basis of the movies. Still, the hole that is left needs to be filled with some kind of substance.

I wish they had work-shopped before airing. This would have been my feedback letter.

Dear Creator’s of The Lot:

Thanks for sharing your new show with me. What a great idea with lots of potential!

This show appeals to people who love movies and movie-making. Can you capitalize on this? Don’t show the set itself--anyone who has spent much time on a set realizes that it will make you like movies and the people who make them a little less every time—but show us specific things about how this show is constructed. For most of us, the world of movie making is as strange and interesting as lifestyles of the rich and famous, but instead of just being decadent, in film the weird expensive stuff is actually used to make something.

Zac’s science lab movie…where did the props come from, a warehouse, or were they made special? Can Eva take us down the aisle of a prop rental house, or interview the person who designs and makes them. Can you tell us what movies they were originally used for? How much does everything cost? Can you shoot a breezy E Entertainment segment on how the big piano is rigged to fall, what it’s really made of, what precautions need to be taken? These little educational tours, will give us something we can look for and identify when we watch the films. It will make us feel smart—and we like that feeling!

Same thing for the weekly movie assignments, people like to look forward more than look back. To say “Can you believe Kenny Luby is still on, Claudia got robbed,” takes all of two seconds, but if we know what the parameters for the next week’s film, how long, what genre, what elements it must contain…then there is room for speculation.

A reality show, at its roots, is a game show with more psycho-social voyeurism. Especially since you are veering away from the voyeuristic aspect (Yeah, you!), you shouldn’t forget the game component. People like game shows because we can put ourselves in the place of a contestant, think what we would do, guess what they will do, but in order to do this we have to understand at least some of the rules. Allow us to use our imaginations, give us something to talk about at happy hour!

Now, Tuesday nights…here’s your chance to give us some personal connection with the contestants. It’s great to wait until after the vote, but pre-record statements where contestants talk—not about each other, and not even much about fears for their fate on the game, but about their visions for the films that they shot, where they got the idea, what they were aiming for…So much movie watching today leaves us wondering “What were they thinking?” And here we have the opportunity to know. Play these little snippets while you are stalling to use time between commercials. We will feel more suspense for these contestants if we know them a little better, we will like them more, if we realize how hard they are trying to do something specific.

Hope this feedback helps.
I look forward to seeing the final version of this, when it’s good.



  1. Glad I missed it. I had seen the commercials and thought it looked good. What to do you think about playing some tennis sometime next week?

  2. Your comments would make the show better. They are trying to make more money. If only they thought a better show WOULD make more money.