Thursday, December 14, 2006

FIERCEFILEā„¢: British Invasion 1

I have a feeling Anonymous A and I were probably two of the only people to actually sit through the entire Top Model: British Invasion 1 two-hour special last night. With every "chuffed," "gutted," and "snogged" uttered by the models I could just feel the American viewers changing channels. It seemed like they tried to keep the cultural references to a minimum but it just wasn't possible to excise them all, leading to what was no doubt a confusing two hours.

Not only were the models using slang that most Americans wouldn't get, but when they showed excerpts from the models' run-ins with "celebrities" it was always actors from freaky weird British things like Coronation Street or the guy who owns Harrod's, which I'm sure had everybody going "Whaaaa?"

Their attempt at cramming an entire cycle of Top Model into only two hours was a mammoth task, and the first hour was a bit of a blur of partially-realized challenges and eliminations held together by narration that didn't always do a good job of filling in the gaps. I was shocked when they got down to the final three in just over an hour until I realized that they were going to show almost the entire final episode, which was a pretty good strategy. It just meant that you got very little chance to get to know any of the characters, not even the judges, which made their attempts at ramping up the drama of models being voted off a bit flat. But for the most part I think it worked, which was pretty shocking to me.

Having so little content to go by, it was next to impossible to make any predictions about the outcome as it went along. I didn't even try until it got down to the final two, and even then it was a completely arbitrary choice. I ended up accidentally picking the winner, but there was no sense of accomplishment when it came true because I really had nothing to base the decision on.

I think instead of stuffing two cycles into four hours, they would have been better doing one cycle over two two-hour specials; that way there would at least have been the opportunity for a real cliffhanger; but I'm sure they assumed that they would be lucky if anyone would make it through the entire two hours as it was without having to come back next week to see how it all fell into place. As an experiment in repackaging reality television for an entirely different market, I think it was a success overall but I can't see it catching on. The whole point of these shows is to suck the audience in and make them feel they're building a relationship with the participants, and it's impossible to achieve that in a single self-contained episode.


Anonymous "A" said...

I felt a right pillock for watching the whole fing.

10:57 AM  
Blogger girlfop said...

ohmigod i used to have this friend Claire? from Manchester, right? that i met in a yoga class years ago? and she like totally taught me British slang! and i totally taught her American slang! and i tried to like teach her not to say "dude", right, cuz it's like totally lame, but she totally loved saying it all the time and it was so adorable and ridiculous but ANYWAY i remembered because you said "chuffed" and she totally made me a bookmark off her computer that was purple and had a happy smiley puppy from 101 Dalmatians on it and it said "CHUFFED" so i wouldn't forget what it meant.

so i like totally could have followed the whole thing, if only i had live television at home.

5:25 PM  

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