The "most talked about series of the fall," according to the CBS promo for "Kid Nation," has now revealed the advertisers in its limited-advertising debut episode.
The first surprising thing about the show wasn't those 40 kids struggling to pull the wooden supply carts to the town or cook their first meal -- mushy macaroni and cheese.
It was that the first commercial aired some 38 minutes into the show. Considering the program's somewhat controversial summer buzz (were those kids TV talent or just camp participants?) perhaps this showed its true colors, giving viewers the full flavor of kids working together through hardship, without the usual TV commerce interruptions.
The first advertiser was a movie studio -- Warner Bros. with a new Christmas-comedy-kid friendly movie, "Fred Claus." All that makes sense; entertainment advertisers are typically the most blasé about controversial TV shows.
Advertisers who followed might be a little more discerning when it comes to TV controversy -- Maybelline, Sears, and medical patch IcyHot. Then CBS went to a promo for "Survivor China."
Nothing scandalous in the first part of the show -- kids bickering, working, making mistakes, and showing a little homesickness. The most wanton thing was the 15-year-old Sophia dancing outside looking to earn a few coins in order to buy a bike.
At best the show seemed to be a rip-off of Mark Burnett's reality-show style seen on "Survivor" and "The Apprentice," among others.
At worst, "Kid Nation" looked more like a bad kids TV competition show, especially during the "showdown" phrase between different colored "districts" -- just call them teams. Those now common kids' reality show side interviews were also lame. Look for Nickelodeon or Disney Channel to follow up with their own respective versions.
The first challenge -- such as it was -- had each team looking to pump the most water from what looked like mini oil derricks. Winners were put into the "upper class." The second-place team got to run the town's retailers -- a general store filled with candy, a store filled with sporting goods, and a root beer saloon, among others. Not completely roughing it.
Ten minutes after the first commercial pod, came the second. Surprise, another Christmas-kids movie -- Fox Filmed Entertainment's "The Seeker."
Then the most scandalous -- or misplaced -- advertising of all, a commercial for the "Vagisil screening kit for vaginal infections." In a kids' show? Hmmm... Who's doing the media planning here, anyway? Hope they got a deal. Then Sears ran another commercial, which was followed by a bunch of CBS show promos.
The episode ended -- as it will with other episodes -- with the town council giving a gold star worth $20,000. The first one was given to Sophia for working the hardest; she cooked meals for everyone. Take that, state of New Mexico. Someone is getting paid!
Another commercial pod: IcyHot again, a Warner Bros. movie, "August Rush," Maybelline again, and Capital One. More CBS show promos followed and then scenes from next week's show.
The main question: Was it a camp, competition, or enforced labor workplace with no wages? Seems like a combination of the first two. (Kids can always leave the show).
Just another reality show? Yes, indeed -- and then less. Advertisers have little to worry about: Kids can be just as boring reality show subjects as adults.