It’ll come as no surprise to anyone who knows me that my girlfriend will watch pretty much anything with the following:
A judging panel – that must consist of:
- A group of relevant professionals, or
- A set of people who have some relevant experience of whatever it is they’re judging, or
- A bunch of people who the public have heard of, who are willing to do the job if none of the above agree to appear on the panel, or
- Anyone else, or worst case scenario
- John Barrowman
This assortment of humans will have been brought together to judge ability in the field of musical theatre, dancing, modelling, cooking or some other essential life skill.
Less importantly, any show must offer up a selection of as yet undiscovered, hopeful new talents, all of whom really want to go “as far as they can” and don’t ever want to “let the public down” but however they fare, they are really REALLY grateful to the public for “all their support” and no matter what anyone says, is doing this because “it’s all [they’ve] ever wanted to do”. Sometimes they have some shitty day job that they use as a means to appeal to us, so that we may intervene and save them from ever having to do it again. “I’m just a binman/checkout girl,” they might say. “Yes. Yes you are.”
The show will be fronted by a “flamboyant”/ageing/glamourous presenter, who will “throw” out to the panel, the contestants, and on some shows, an expert, who seems to have some power over any judging decisions, but it’s never clear how much (cos that’d blow the tension).
Whatever, whenever this expert is called on to make a decision, it’s always “really tough” and regardless of who has to go “home”, it’s always great that they’ve come “such a long way”. OK, enough quoting.
Over The Rainbow is the third, fourth or possibly fifth application of a format that has sought to trawl the public (performing arts schools) for some new talent and inject them into the world of musical theatre. So far, this has worked quite well, with previous outings having found new leading ladies for Oliver!, Sound Of Music and er, Joseph And His/Her Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat. And I’m sure it’ll work wonders for Dorothy/Wizard Of Oz, even though there are, like, two songs in it that Dorothy actually sings.
My problem with it is that it’s just dressed up musical performance. Which is fine, but the songs, the arrangements are always pretty average, and familiar! So many of the songs have been showcased on other talent shows that it’s hard to remember sometimes which show you’re watching.
What’s left is split between overly explanatory VTs about how hard the training is (duh) and even more obvious, how much the contestants “WANT THIS”, and the judges trying desperately to offer criticism that doesn’t offend in any way. And by the end of these series, there is virtually nothing negative said about anything. Everyone is brilliant, and has come “such a long way”. Zzzzzzz.
Now, admittedly I don’t have an awful lot of experience of TV production, but I know enough to see patterns in how stuff is made, and as these shows don’t really stray from their formats at all, I find them frustrating to watch. I’ve not enjoyed any talent show since Faking It, but I totally get their appeal.
My girlfriend actually WORKS in TV production, but she also LOVES musical theatre, so despite the utter familiarity of Over The Rainbow, she laps up the performances and whatever edited filler they’re bookended with, and somehow, the need to grind a layer of enamel off her molars escapes her.
Basically, the show feels like so much more lazy, tired, melodramatic, manipulative, cynical Saturday night shiny floor guff, and I am mostly alone in thinking this, and it makes me sad.
That said, I spent the duration of the show watching a kind of Ace Ventura’s Greatest Hits, so I probably shouldn’t complain.