TV Guide Presents: Trapped in TV Guide
Arts Alliance America // Unrated // $14.98 // June 12, 2007
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted June 21, 2007
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I've started to become sick and tired of reality television, as these shows have become copies of one another and often consist of yet another set of people waiting to embarass themselves just to get on television or another set of B-list celebs trying to parade (or dance) themselves into another 15 minutes. While there's a few bright spots ("Extreme Makeover: Home Edition"), reality television has gotten lazier and duller since it first made waves several years ago.

I stepped into watching "Trapped With TV Guide" thinking that it sounded like sort of a cute concept. The series, which airs on the TV Guide channel, is sort of a cross between "Punk'd" and....well, TV Guide. The series essentially throws an everyday, average person into the middle of a scene out of a popular television show. The show is hosted by former "Growing Pains" star Tracey Gold, who introduces the skits.

The series is really hit-and-miss, with the show's low budget and softball pitch (the actors keep hinting at the show they're parodying during the bit.) One of the worst bits is based on "Friends", where a woman invites a bunch of people over for a party and, after a while, a naked guy starts walking around across the way. See...it's supposed to be like the "Ugly Naked Guy" on "Friends"...only without funny writing or acting. As with this bit, some of the skits are just too loosely tied to the original series and don't seem all that well thought out.

The next skit, where a girl is placed into a real life episode of "The Bachelor" fairs a bit better, as an unknowing woman is placed into the middle of one of the show's rose ceremonies. Whether the series intended or not, the bit is a decent spoof of the series and the woman's confusion and reactions play off the bit nicely. It's still not comedy gold (it's not even Tracey Gold), but it works well enough.

The other bits are a similar mix of good, decent and just plain blah. Some of the other highlights include a takeoff on "Perfect Strangers", where a long-lost cousin from a different country meets different people in a restaurant in a manner similar to Balki did to cousin Larry in "Perfect Strangers". A "Deal or No Deal" spoof in a luggage store is also okay, and I kind of liked a take on "My Name Is Earl", where a woman tries to "pay back" people who she's wronged in the past at a restaurant - well, at least until the bill comes.

I think the best way to describe the series as a whole is just "okay". The actors who lead the bits could use some improvement, as they tend to play up the situation too much, to the point where they may as well just wink at the camera. Some are better than others, but it's a core issue that takes away from the whole program. Going along with this is the previously mentioned hints, which occasionally get to the point where it's surprising the person doesn't catch on in an instant. This could be a better series if it was given more of a budget (it looks like it was done on a shoestring) and better acting, less hints (the "Friends" skit has one of the actors talk about "their friend, Jooooeyyy...") and better planning.


The DVD

VIDEO: "Trapped in TV Guide" is presented by Hart Sharp in 1.33:1 full-frame. The presentation quality is at what I would estimate is broadcast quality, with images looking crisp and clean during the segments with Gold, while other scenes shot with the hidden cams look worse (as one would expect from a hidden camera show) appearing noisy and soft. No artifacting or edge enhancement was seen, and colors looked natural during the Gold segments, but could vary during the hidden camera bits.

SOUND: "Trapped in TV Guide" is presented in stereo and offers clear audio.

EXTRAS: Outtakes and additional interview footage with Tracey Gold, Christopher Knight and Shirley Jones.

Final Thoughts: "Trapped In TV Guide" has a cute concept, but I think the show could use some considerable fine tuning if they go on for another season. Fans can snap up the set for cheap (it's $9.99 in some stores), but others interested should try a rent first.


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