Watching: Taken Out

I enjoy good trash culture - not everything in life needs to be insightful or meaningful, sometimes a bit of froth and bubble (or shlocky exploitation) is just what it takes to help the mind wind down a little.

The world we live in isn't populated by rocket scientists and brain surgeons, it's almost entirely just average people going about their business and trying to get by. It's easy to mock or feel superior to some of the people we see on tv - particularly reality tv - for being kind of simple/dumb or having priorities in life that seem shallow or materialistic or whatever but I think this is ultimately unkind and generally a sign of our own failings. Don't they say that the things we hate in others are the things we hate in ourselves?

Which is why I'm having a hard time working out how I feel about Channel Ten's new show, Taken Out.

It's a new format for dating shows (rather than a "safe/proven" recycled show from overseas so points for effort) which takes 30 women and puts them in a big semicircle around one man. (Apparently this shifts later in the series to 30 men and 1 woman). The women have a light panel behind them and a button in front which they can use to turn their light off. They use the light panel to indicate whether they are still interested in the man currently on display based on a series of drip fed information. Once they have turned the light off, it stays off for the round.

Between the decision sessions, the host randomly picks women to ask why they have chosen for or against the guy. Decision points occur as soon as the guy enters the studio, after a short biographical filmclip package, after the guy has had a chance to chat about themselves and finally after a short videoclip of the guy's best mate talking about them. From here, the remaining women come down in front of the guy and he gets to ask them one question to determine which of them he takes out on a date.

Ok, so structurally, it's something a little different - the pacing was a tiny bit slow but you could put this down to pilot jitters and it's fair to allow the host and editor/director etc time to get the feel for the show. The decision making time is around 10 seconds which seemed longer but is reasonable but the host/girls banter really needs some work - partly because the host didn't seem to have a lot to work with in terms of bright sparks amongst the women but also because he seemed unsure of how to play it. (Tip - patronising and slightly sleazy probably isn't the best approach)

All in all - and again, I'm trying to accept that it's froth tv, not the 7.30 report - pretty well everyone on the show came across as either kind of dumb, highly superficial, vapid, slutty (male and female) or famewhores. I'm not saying that this is all there is to these people, given the context they were in and the no-doubt selective editing that was going on but there were at least a few of these people who seemed to positively revel in this identity. Interestingly, the woman who seemed less like this came across as so bland and devoid of personality that I was personally hoping that the other type got the date. So it's not really a win-win situation.

I haven't been able to find much online in the way of clips yet - just a handful of Channel Ten promos using the male and female contestants from the show - you can check these out here if you like 

I'd say that the response on the Channel 10 forums about the show offers perhaps the most illuminating response to the show so far - and it's not great. There are a fair few people who are a little pissed off that repeats of repeats of Friends have been taken off air but even leaving those aside, just look at some of the topic headings.

Choice comments include:

Geez, this new program is honestly WOEFUL!

I never post on these forums, but strangely felt moved to do so in this case. What a train wreck! Never seen anything like it. A lacklustre premise for a show, with a mediocre host and lukewarm guests, all delivered at an mind-numbing pace. Truly miss-able viewing.

Do us all a favour and axe it tonight. Let's see "Friends" repeats tomorrow instead.

Sleaze discussions of sex in public places in a 7pm timeslot, women with their **** hanging out. Desperados wanting 10 minutes of fame. I guess this is where they end up when they axe Big Brother.

Looks like it is another season of the 7pm timeslot that 10 wants to lose. 

FRIENDS is the best taken out is gay take taken out of channel ten and put Friends back on and supernatural use take out all the best shows and replace them with the gayest shows

HeraScie: Wombat;
Do you really think it's a good idea to put someone on national TV and have members of the opposite sex scrutinize them over purely superficial things? Women have fought for years to not be torn apart over their appearance and now it is being done to men? (And women later, I understand).

On the other hand, it's not without support :

HeraScie....you've got issues! Leave the psycho analytical stuff within your 4 walls. You are now starting to sound drab!

And all the rest of you, Friends?? You honestly give a toot about Friends, the show thats been around since 1957!?

So what if it's on. Calm down about how appalling it is and just see it for what it really is. Just mindless entertainment with a bunch of female and male contestants having a laugh, having fun. Everyone gets a shot at saying something cheeky, something rude, something flirty, something cute. It doesnt have to be this mind altering experience. Its just a dating show for gods sake....and clearly not dated. The format is completely different from "Perfect Match". And you might actually find one of the contestants funny in the eps to come. Now wouldnt that be a treat. Some laughter in your life.......sounds like you all need it.

But seriously, I'll ask again...Friends?? Can you get over it already. How completely freaky can you Friends fans be out there?? Thats whats scary.

As a contestant and experiencing this first hand I assure you that things will get better when you get the first panel of guys on....

Will you all just shut up and give the show a chance....

(Incidentally, that last comment is repeated by the same guy  four or five times in different posts)

All of this said and done, there is a compelling car crash quality to this show that will probably bring me back a few more times - I'd suggest taking a look at least once for giggles.