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Published on January 25th, 2008 | by Erich Becker

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Gone Country – Pilot (01×01)

CMT’s newest reality series, Gone Country, has an interesting premise: take a group of singers and performers who wouldn’t otherwise be considered a country artist, throw them in a house together, and have them compete for a nearly guaranteed country-radio hit. To spice things up, these hapless humans will learn what it is to be country; from shoveling manure to riding ATVs, the unlikely hodge-podge of 80′s burnouts and D-list reality staples certainly tries its best to entertain.

 

The problem is, as with most reality shows, the manufactured situations and conflicts seem so transparent now after a show like this has been done so many times. With successful shows like Big Brother and The Surreal Life, both on corporate cousins of MTV Networks-owned CMT, it just becomes harder and harder to look at shows like this without wondering if it really is reality.

The show is hosted by John Rich, from the group Big & Rich, who tries to keep this motley crew focused on the contest at hand, the prize being the chance to be the next country superstar. As the pilot episode opens, a tour bus gathers up the contestants in different parts of Nashville and we’re treated to the reactions of each as new members are gobbled up. Contestants include Julio Iglesias Jr., Carnie Wilson (the big girl from Wilson Phillips), Twisted Sister front man Dee Snider (who seems to be in every reality show on TV now), American Idol runner-up Diana DeGarmo, Marcia Brady herself Maureen McCormick (who appears to be on her last bit of sanity), “Thong Song” writer/performer Sisqo, and the original bad boy himself, Bobby Brown.

 

It’s definitely a different, and eclectic, mix of characters who seems to meld well together, even when the producers attempt to show that there’s some conflict between them. Watching the train wreck of emotions that is McCormick is nearly unbearable at times as she begins to cry and whine about nearly everything (she acts more like Jan than Marcia, Marcia, Marcia). Snider comes off as his usual hard-assed self, but after seeing this character on everything from I Love the 80′s and beyond, I think the world is over its fascination with the cross-dressing front man. Brown, who you would think would come out swinging knowing his past, plays it relatively cool, almost to the point of disappointment. You’re just hoping Whitney pops up so he has someone to go to town on and liven things up a little bit.

 

The pilot episode does a good job of setting up how the contest will work and introducing us to the players. I just wish producers wouldn’t try so hard, even during the “Coming Up” commercial bumpers, to force conflict in the off chance you might turn away to another channel for a few minutes. A competition like this doesn’t need the added emotional baggage some of the characters seem poised to bring to the small screen, and after nearly two decades of Real World, it’s really time for us to give up our voyeuristic tendencies and focus on what really is at stake, winning the contest.

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About the Author

Thirty-something with a love of everything we cover here, and a few things we don't. Erich has run Entertainmentopia since the site's inception in 1999, countless redesigns, a few crashes, and a lot of media later, here you have it!



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