Wednesday, August 03, 2005

The Scholar

Not the most timely entry, but my thoughts remain virile and potent.

1. I would think that Alyssa, who is part Native American, wouldn't need to resort to a reality show to get funding for school. Combined with her grades, wouldn't her ethnicity pretty much guarantee some kind of pre-existing scholarship?

2. A couple notes on the introductory montage that accompanies the opening credits:

a. Where most of the other kids say something that, despite being naive, concretely attempts to explain their worth as THE SCHOLAR, Elizabeth cheerfully proclaims, "My dream school is Yale," as if Yale in itself justifies someone's intelligence.

b. Davis, the drip, says he wants to become President so that he can help effect "a change in American culture." My stupid, presumptuous and elitist boy, if you want to change culture, pick some other job.

3. Within the context of the reality genre, the series probably failed on two counts: the sentimentality -- especially in the finale -- and with the editing.

Because it involved kids, whom, you know, WE MUST PROTECT etc., the producers, who apparently didn't want to come off as exploitative, went with the feel-good route which de-emphasized typical reality tv drama. Problem is, The Scholar is a reality show, and reality shows thrive on conflict that's broadcast for our voyeuristic and cathartic pleasures. Consequently, the show came off instead as mushy and neutered.

Meanwhile, my problem with the editing lay with how the producers treated the commercial breaks. In order to make sure audiences stayed with the show through the break, the producers often left in hanging in mid-sentence. Which is aggravating because it comes off as arbitrary, manipulative and amateurish. Yes, it makes us want to know what happens, but do it enough and it frustrates us and tries our patience, and we may not stick around the next time you pull a trick like that. It shows a lack of imagination or preparedness, since there are perfectly fine ways of cutting to commercials that don't cut up the narrative flow.

Indie rating: The Descendents - "Mass Nerder"

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