by pat howard

REALITY | ‘Kid Nation’ premieres

In CBS, Reality TV on September 20, 2007 at 8:03 am

Now we’ve all had a chance to check out Kid Nation. Here are some of my observations:

  • The limited-commercial-interruption, 67-minute premiere felt excruciatingly long. I imagine subsequent episodes at normal runtimes will resolve this in the future, but it seemed like the pilot went on forever.
  • The concept remains an interesting idea; it’s something I would’ve been game for as a child, so I can definitely see why parents and children got on board.
  • One of CBS’s strengths in recent years has been reality competition programming. The network knows how to keep it exciting, as we saw in last night’s showdown. This will be an advantage for the show, which has quite a pedigree to live up to.
  • The producers seem to have cast a wide variety of children, making for an interesting mix. However, I wonder to what extent traditional reality casting tactics were employed. It seems too early to make a judgment on this, but it’s something I’ll be keeping an eye on. In this instance, the fact that children’s personalities aren’t yet rigidly defined may have worked against the stereotypical casting strategies.
  • One child left for home at the end of last night’s episode. Since they can leave at any time, I wonder how many of the 39 remaining kids will be compelled to do so before the 40-day experiment concludes.
  • My biggest concern, aside from the upcoming chicken-slaughter episode, is whether 8-year-olds will be able to process and accept the version of reality that CBS will be presenting in this show. Adult reality participants at least should know that they’re being manipulated by the production for the purposes of creating entertaining television. I don’t know that we can have the same expectation of children.

WaPo REVIEW | Shales: “Those children may not have a nanny, but the United States does.”


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