Entertainment Weekly recently expressed some faith that On the Lot is about to get better. Like, any day now. The reality show, in which wannabe Spielbergs vie for a development deal, has struggled mightily and has abysmal ratings. I keep trying to watch it, but I’m just about ready to throw a hissy fit and eat my pain at the craft services table.
So here are my five reasons to give up on On the Lot:
5. They keep retooling the show.
Obviously this is a chicken-and-egg thing — does it suck because they keep retooling it, or do they keep retooling it because it sucks? — but it makes the show very difficult to fast-forward through. Most cable viewers who have TiVos and DVRs expect to be able to zip through a show at lightning speed, and that doesn’t work if the show doesn’t have a predictable structure. Every reality show of this nature should pattern itself after American Idol structurally, at least until something better comes along.
4. Film does not lend itself to snap judgments.
I guess I prove the contrary point every day on this site, but in all seriousness, it just doesn’t seem fair to vote for someone based on one film. Everyone’s always saying it’s such a complex medium, so shouldn’t the show reflect that?
On American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance, each performance seems to stand on its own and you feel comfortable making an assessment of just those few moments in time. But the contestants’ short films on On the Lot aren’t real-time performances: They’re submissions, prepared ahead of time and deserving considered analysis. How can I vote for my favorite when I haven’t really absorbed anyone’s work? Real-time voting should be reserved for real-time art.
3. The contestants are too egotastic.
I know, I know, this was to be expected from a show about budding filmmakers, but seriously, some of these people are incredibly high on themselves. That’s why I’m glad Marty Martin is off the show — though I’ll miss hearing judge Carrie Fisher tell him he obviously doesn’t need her because he’s so overconfident.
2. I can’t distinguish the films from the commercials when I’m fast-forwarding.
I guess most commercials must be directed by recent film school grads. When I scan through an episode of On the Lot, I often mistake the films for ads and end up wondering just how long a commercial break can last. Same production values, same pacing, same aren’t-we-amazing style. Somebody do something different already!
1. I need more Carrie Fisher.
I think Fisher should open and close each episode with her own take on how everyone’s progressing. She’s the only one who consistently gives spot-on advice. (I’m trying to overlook the fact that she seems to have had some work done and is thus no longer the slightly chunky, stylishly sassy, gracefully aging smartass I loved in years past.)
Garry Marshall is fun, but he’s like a quote-spouting college prof who seems really profound until you leave the classroom and can’t figure out what the hell you’re supposed to have just learned. Garry and Carrie do offer a "rundown" on the official site, but if so few people are watching the show, how many people are visiting the website?
EW said Fisher’s recent comments to contestant Jessica Brillheart (who made a horror film from a tree’s perspective — yes, really) were unfunny and embarrassing, but I thought they exemplified the Fisher wit. She crafts humor from her own angst, and it makes me love her.
I think maybe I just want to see the reality show in which someone follows Carrie Fisher around and captures all her mordant moments. Meanwhile, I’ll fast-forward (as much as I’m able, what with the retooling and the commercials) through On the Lot and hope to catch the zingers.