Network TV's New 'Temptation': Rebooting Old Reality Shows

Thank you, USA Network, for reviving memories from the early years of the current century when reality TV was fresh, and new concepts -- mostly ridiculous -- were being introduced left and right and providing a TV columnist with a bottomless supply of nutty subjects to write about.

But no thank you, USA Network, for reviving “Temptation Island,” which made for a lot of great columns and commentaries in its first iteration back in 2001, but here in the present day comes across as even dumber than it was then, if such a thing is humanly possible.

Welcome to what could become a new era in reality TV -- revivals of the first wave of reality shows that made headlines back in the early years of the 2000s.

Incredibly, some of them are still around, including “Survivor” (debuted in May 2000), “Big Brother” (July 2000), “The Amazing Race” (September 2001) -- all on CBS -- and “The Bachelor” (March 2002) on ABC.



The success, or perhaps the persistence, of “The Bachelor” might be one reason why USA is bringing back “Temptation Island,” which bares at least some similarities to “The Bachelor.” Both shows are basically about randy young people drinking heavily, pairing off and hooking up.

In “Temptation Island,” both the new one and the original, long-term monogamous relationships are put to the test as couples with a couple of years together and on the verge of becoming engaged are thrown into close, drunken proximity with a group of comely singles whose aim is to tempt them away from their mates.

Then as now, the show's premise is cruel. On the other hand, these participants were well-aware of what they were getting themselves into when they agreed to go on this show so they have no one to blame but themselves.

And that revives another memory from that era. A young woman who was a staff photographer on the newspaper where I then worked told me one day that she had been invited to try out for one of the reality dating shows and went for an interview with producers and casting people from the show.

She told me she was not accepted because, they told her, she was too bright. Apparently, they were looking for participants for the show who -- how shall I put this? -- were not the sharpest tools in the shed.

However, such people proved plentiful because TV in the early ’00s was awash in reality dating shows along the lines of “Temptation Island.”

Who can forget the great one-off special on Fox called “Who Wants to Marry a Multimillionaire” featuring the most ill-matched couple in the history of television, Darva Conger and Rick Rockwell?

Other shows in this vein included “Joe Millionaire,” “Chains of Love” (in which singles were tethered together with chains), “Blind Date,” “Elimi-Date,” “Shipmates” and “Love Cruise,” whose premiere was scheduled for the evening of September 11, 2001.

With TV reviving vintage dramas and sitcoms these days, it stands to reason that the powers that be would get around to looking at the reality hits from 15-20 years ago and start cherry-picking them for reboots.

As one who experienced the introduction of so many of them back then (and lived to write about them), I say: Bring it. Let there be no shortage of upcoming reality-TV reboots and the infinite column topics they will produce for the TV Blog.

The new “Temptation Island” premieres Tuesday night (January 15) at 10 Eastern on USA Network.

1 comment about "Network TV's New 'Temptation': Rebooting Old Reality Shows".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, January 16, 2019 at 8:50 a.m.

    Even though Alan Funt isn't around anymore, his golden oldie classic, "Candid Camera", might be an even better bet for a revival. The problem with most "reality" formats, however, is that they don't syndicate well---so you have to make your money during their original runs on the air.

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