| Paul! Jacob! Bryan! Ashley! Ikaika! Mike! Erik! Trevor!
Yes, that's right. This is the true story of eight strangers---whittled down from 1,750 applicants---picked to live in a house, have their lives taped---including the part of their lives spent naked in the shower---and find out what happens when boy-band kingmaker Lou Pearlman tries to turn them into the next 'NSync-full of Backstreet Boys.
The Real World? Not by a long shot. It's Making The Band.
The one-hour pilot of this "reality-based" monstrosity, with 22 half-hour episodes due to follow, was enough to make us miss Darva Conger. A Bunim-Murraay production---they're the Real World/Road Rules honchos at MTV---Making The Band must be a dream come true for ABC. If the five finalists chosen to form the band "O-Town" (short for Orlando) turn out to be a salable franchise, they're already owned by Disney and can immediately be plopped onstage at the Magic Kingdom. If they fail as a band, well, those Mickey Mouse and Goofy costumes don't just parade themselves around the park....
ABC's choice of time slots---9:30 pm on Fridays---seems to us a quiet acknowledgement that Making The Band is the TGIF equivalent of soft-core porn. Watching the chubby Pearlman smack his lips while hugging each finalist, then letting the cameras, and therefore us, follow the finalists into the shower to watch them suds up---from the waist up, of course, but still!---left us feeling distinctly icky. This bad vibe was compounded when camera crews relentlessly followed one finalist's tearful father around the house while he asked them several times to stopand let him collect himself. We get the sense that, for these producers, a good day on the set would be one where one cast member needs spontaneous surgery, two others get into a shoving match, and a fourth discovers he has A.D.D.---all of which takes place while they're naked in a jacuzzi.
Of course, we're not surprised: Bunim and Murray don't have a scruple between them. When Ruthie tried to drive home while wasted on the Real World's Hawaii show, rather than call the Highway patrol the show simply made a cameraman follow along and tape footage of her car speeding and weaving over the yellow lines. Tragedies are like catnip to these people, and the shallow look we get at these "real" characters doesn't give us much to root for, except something, anything to break the hypnotic spell they cast.
Now that we think about it, if it means not having to suffer through the career ups and downs of another LFO (remember "Summer Girls"? "New Kids on the Block had a lot of hits, chinese food makes me sick..." Oy!), we might enjoy an episode of Making The Band where special guest Ruthie takes the gang out and they all get alcohol poisoning. Now that's a ratings-grabber!