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A Scott Pukos Pop-Ed: Dear Reality TV, Time to Step Up Your Game


No one ever asks me about my favorite reality show, but I answer that question for them anyway (the conversation usually ends in a fist fight).

The answer? The Mole.

If you don’t remember, The Mole is also known as Anderson Cooper’s finest moment (well, it may be second, after his Dyngus Day freakout). Cooper hosted the ABC reality show where contestants solved various missions while in the presence of an unknown saboteur. At the end of each episode, the players would be subjected to a quiz. The main thrust of this testing: Who is the devious mole among them?

I loved this concept, and the execution was a blast. Furthermore, I’d say one of my greatest talents was detecting the mole. Can’t trick this guy! (My secret is I always guess the mole is the dude with the shifty eyes and/or the person who actually looks like the animal that is the show is named after).

The mole wouldn’t be obvious in his/her mission. In fact, often the other players would be so incompetent, the mole would have to solve the puzzle just to divert attention to another contestant.

I would love it if this mole concept could be extended to real life. Who wouldn’t get a secret kick out of trying to guess who is the office mole who keeps lacing the coffee with bath salts, or try to solve the mystery of the roommate mole who switched the Kleenex with chloroform rags? And wouldn’t it be fun to play the mole role?! I would no doubt grow an epic handlebar mustache and develop a sinister laugh for this role.

Unfortunately, The Mole was cancelled. And while reality television continues to thrive, it’s just not as much fun anymore. So, here’s my idea for some fun reality shows that should enter your televisions (or laptops or iPads or wherever you watch shows). Some are ones where contestants can win prizes, others simply have no winners.

The Coroner Corner 
Morbid? Possibly. Fascinating? Definitely.

There are probably rules and regulations against this, but for the purpose of this column, forget those. Having a camera crew detail the life of a coroner would showcase an interesting job (that probably most people don’t know much about) and display how these professionals deal with death, day in and day out.

A spin-off could focus on the cutthroat world of funeral home directors. Cameos from Six Feet Under alumni would be a bonus.

Choose Your Own Adventure
This one would be interactive and innovative.

The show would be constructed like the classic choose-your-own-adventure books, where the reader can select their own path for the main character (the ones I read almost all ended with my character dead ...).

Contestants would be sent out into the world equipped with an earpiece. At home, the audiences would choose between two actions for the characters. In the downtime, contestants would live together and be filmed. This gives the players incentive to form a strategy — you don’t want the audience to hate you because then they’ll choose an awful path for you. However, you do want the audience to screw over the other contestants. Strategize accordingly!

One mission would ask contestants to score a date. The audience would choose whether the player attempts this task by heading to an area of town filled with coffee shops, book stores, grocery spots and bars … OR the contestant would have to get wasted and head to a nursing home. (And of course, the actual date will have plenty of chances for choose-your-own-adventure debauchery also.)

While the correct option on this show may seem obvious, this won’t always be the case. Like in those dastardly books, the seemingly safe option will sometime lead to demise. Say the mission calls for the players to acquire flowers. One option is to send them out into a field and the other is to have them dress like a pirate and attend a funeral. If you’re actually rooting for this person, the correct option seems obvious, but TWIST, you’d be wrong.

The field would not be a meadow overflowing with flowers and beauty, but instead, a vacant lot plagued with tall grass, weeds, and blighted, asbestos-filled shacks ... while the funeral option would be for a man who was a devout pirate enthusiast.

In conclusion, this show would be the best.

Game of Arms 
Like Sylvester Stallone in the ridiculous 1980s film Over the Top, this would focus on the insanity of competitive arm wrestling. It would ... Oh, wait. This already exists? Looks like AMC has its Breaking Bad replacement!

Maybe we can add a competitive thumb-wrestling show or a rock-paper-scissor battle royale to the lineup as well. Honestly, I would watch both.

Hard Knocks: Quidditch
This would be just like HBO’s Hard Knocks series that chronicles a NFL training camp … except it will be about people who play Quidditch. Yes, people run around with broomsticks between their legs pretending they can fly. And yes, this will include both ample drama and a ton of comedy. It would be downright magical.

The Paper 2.0
Chronicling a newspaper crew has been done before, and I even pitched a similar show in my column a few weeks ago.This could work as a franchise with high school, college and professional level newspapers and would instantly jump to the top of my favorite shows list.

Bring Back The Mole
Seriously, just do it.
A Scott Pukos Pop-Ed: Dear Reality TV, Time to Step Up Your Game Reviewed by Scott Pukos on 12/13/2013 Rating: 5

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