Sad reality of TV3's summer celeb-fest as the MOD squad fails to impress
Judges to blame as simple TV formula fails for lack of key ingredients, writes Andrea Byrne
There are two key ingredients in the recipe for the perfect reality TV show. The first is a handful of desperate contestants who have no boundaries, no concept of their own ineptitude, and absolutely no pride.
The second is a good dollop of drama and a sprinkling of panto, personified by a panel of judges. They must be high-profile, utterly polarised in their views, charismatic -- and stoop to new lows in the name of good TV.
The X Factor has Cowell and Cole, America's Next Top Model has Tyra, Strictly Coming Dancing has Revel Horwood and Goodman, and, well, Total Xposure -- TV3's summer reality show to find a replacement for former favourite tea-time totty Lorraine Keane -- has Michael, Emma and Gerry.
Michael O'Doherty, the polished, orange (the car, not his skintone) Lamborghini-driving publisher who is as famous for his socialite lifestyle as he is for his publications (he's the man we have to thank for bringing VIP into our lives). Emma Ledden, the glamorous, former MTV presenter who had a meteoric rise to fame, and soon after, an equally sudden disappearance off the TV radar. And Gerry Lundberg, the affable, larger-than-life public relations guru.
Throw in a dash of young, fame-hungry wannabes, with a pinch of good editing and you've all the yummy ingredients for easy-to-watch car-crash television and a tasty midweek telly treat.
Surely, I thought, when I first heard of the show, we're in for a summer of handbags-at-dawn, panto-dame style scraps and ego battles.
I'm still waiting . . .
With one episode to go, it appears that TV3's summer soufflé -- which promised so much fluffiness and friction -- has fallen decidedly flat.
In fact, as the series stutters along to its climax, it's beginning to feel like 'the MOD show', or 'Total Poser' as a friend quite cleverly coined it, rather than an entertaining search for a bright young thing to join the Xposé gal-pals. Week after week, O'Doherty has been taking to the floor and consuming as much, if not more, airtime than the contestants.
To be fair, irritatingly self-aggrandising and conceited though he is at times, he is the only judge to take any kind of stand, exhibit any kind of real opinion or personality, and, at times, the only one to actually contribute anything at all.
Perhaps he should consider joining Glenda and the gals on the show himself. It could be, to use their favourite word, "stunning!".
Like most male reality TV judges of a certain vintage, MOD has chosen, rather predictably, to adopt the Piers Morgan/Simon Cowell persona. He adopts Piers' lip-pursing smirk, which invariably prefaces a sharp Cowell-esque barb.
Perhaps it's his questionable celebrity credentials that have him doing such, because, let's be honest, only about 2 per cent of the population actually knew who MOD was before his role as reality TV judge extraordinaire.
Usually, when people have something to prove, they tend to overcompensate by attacking us with their ego. In a recent episode, he embarrassed pretty model Ruth O'Neill by questioning the origins of her husky accent. "Castleknock," she replied meekly, her face reddening at the insinuations of the jibe. His gripe was that the majority of people from Castleknock don't talk like that and that by adopting an unnatural drawl she would alienate viewers. Hmmm, talk about pot calling the kettle black -- MOD, who speaks in the most embroidered D4 tones, is originally from Wicklow!
But, like I said, Total Xposure would be an even duller place without MOD, so I am prepared to let this sharp-suited Romeo away with a lot.
I had big expectations for Emma Ledden, which is probably why she is the biggest disappointment of all. This was her time to shine after a decade out of public consciousness. I presumed, having been unceremoniously dumped by MTV and the BBC, she had a massive point to prove. Had she played her cards right and dazzled us with charm, she could have carved out a nice little career for herself. But instead, she has made little impact. The Emma I remember from her tenure on MTV was one of fresh-faced zeal, ambition and sassiness.
Also, what's with the new look? On MTV, she was one of those rare people who could pull off a short pixie haircut. She wore very little make-up, because she didn't need to.
Fair enough, time has moved on and none of us is getting any younger. None the less, she is still a very attractive young lady, and does not require the mutton-dressed-as-lamb-like hair extensions that only Cheryl Cole can pull off, or the liberally-applied slap. On Total Xposure, she looks and acts matronly.
Gerry Lungberg, meanwhile, just looks downright bored by the whole thing. I was expecting some sort of Alan Sugar-type figure. But from the outset, Gerry has been totally redundant, proffering little to the programme other than an odd grunt.
And as for the dynamic between the three judges, well I think I've seen a more exciting rapport between nuns in a closed order at prayer time.
And so the question remains, will it be Ruth, Sean or Simon who will be the next presenter of Xposé? Well, whatever the outcome, you can be guaranteed that if they're any good they will be snapped up by RTE pretty promptly. And you can be sure, given their paltry €25K TV3 salary, they'll be only too willing to move.