Will Syfy's 'Opposite Worlds' Take The TV/Twitter Relationship To A New Level?
Consider the facts: “Opposite Worlds,” which makes its premiere on January 21 and will run every Tuesday and Wednesday night at 10 p.m. for six weeks, is a live competition show that is more “Hunger Games” than “American Idol,” as two teams of people living in the same house under extraordinarily different circumstances compete in wide-ranging challenges. (I guess one might call it a hybrid of “The Hunger Games” and “Big Brother.”) One team lives in a futuristic manner, the other in an atmosphere described as the distant past. That description would suggest that the latter group is at an ongoing disadvantage, but that may not prove true -- and the exploration of that will play out on live television.
The teams are kept apart in the house by a glass wall that allows them to observe and analyze what each other is doing without actually mixing together. That should only add to the intensity of the viewing experience.
“Opposite Worlds” is also potentially quite noteworthy in that it may take audience interactivity to another level. The players in this game aren't just competing to outdo the other team -- they also have to impress viewers at home, who will be encouraged to communicate with the production via social media in such a way as to determine the outcome of each player's fate. Syfy in a recent press release said that this audience interaction will “unveil” the effects Twitter can have and allow consumer opinions expressed via social media to impact the show -- kind of like those final few minutes of the “Voice” results shows last fall when the preferences of Twitter users trumped those of the rest of the viewers who voted and the show's judges in determining which two of the week's bottom three vote getters would get booted off the show.
But “Opposing Worlds” should go a bit deeper on an emotional level, because viewers will be able to reward players they like and torment those they don't. They will be able to vote to give certain players rewards and special abilities that could impact that night's games while also deciding on punishments for players they want to see suffer. In other words, players will have to worry about what the home audience thinks of them or they could get screwed.
It would seem to me that this is the direction much of television will be headed in in the years ahead, as Millennials and the children they have begun having increasingly make clear that they aren't interested in simply sitting and watching anything. They must always be doing something, which seems a little sad but that's the reality of their situation. (Maybe when they get older they'll learn to relax.) So any kind of programming that pulls them in and reinforces the idea that they are at the center of everything (or at least very close) is bound to prove attractive.
“Opposite Worlds” sounds like such a show. It is of course impossible to say whether it will live up to expectations or if it will pave the way for the new kinds of television that will soon be upon us whether we like it or not. I'm still puzzled as to why there is no advance hype for it. At the very least I would think it will make for a lively diversion during the dark nights of winter.