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The Syfy Network’s latest attempt to merge some sort of genre elements with reality TV tropes premiered last night with the series Opposite Worlds. The gist is this: two teams are placed on opposite sides of a house separated by a wall of clear glass. One side is modern, sold as futuristic but most of what’s in this side of the house is simply modern design. The other side of the house is designed to look like a cave. The cave team are supposed to live like cave people but there are signs of convenience including metal pots and utensils. Each day the teams will compete for control of where they live. Winning teams can pick whether to live in the past or the future. Every game is in current time. The big mistake of the series, at least as it appears based on the pilot episode, is that the producers are trying to make viewers feel like there is a point to the spectacle.

Are they trying to prove that modern conveniences don’t make life as much easier as we believe? Are they trying to prove that modern convenience makes us lazy? Are they trying to prove that primitive living drives people closer together causing more real relationships? You could probably argue that the showrunners are trying to prove all of this but none of it pans out in the hour premiere. What is proven here is that the same lowest common denominator sort of casting used for so many other basic cable reality shows is in full effect here. There’s a blonde air head Barbie, a bitchy black girl, an all teeth and hair California boy, and another over aggressive guy for example. The first game that is played between the two teams is so untested and prepared that two people on one team are actually hurt pretty bad with one of them probably not returning to the show at all. It’s doubtful that the producers planned for a contestant to break a leg in the first episode but maybe this sort of hockey fighting NASCAR crashing voyeurs will appreciate the show.
Opposite World’s sells itself as the most interactive show on television too with Twitter followers having power over rewards and punishments for teams and individual players. So, what is sure to follow is simply a big popularity contest rather than a great experiment. In fact as innovative as the ideas in the show hope to be the social network crushes it completely. This is the network’s second attempt to make their network socially relevant. The science fiction drama Defiance is playing out alongside a massively multiplayer videogame that is supposed to have some impact on the story. At the end of the day it all really came off as a gimmick and the game itself is mediocre at best. At least that idea though was exciting.

Opposite Worlds joins shows like The X Factor and American Idol by featuring two episodes a week. The first episode will feature the game and the second episode airing tonight will be live and will feature the week’s elimination. So it will go from week to week until there’s only one player left to win $100,000 bucks. I don’t know what I expected from this series but there’s always hope for breaking ground, for trying to do something other than appealing to base emotions and titillation. Unfortunately nothing new will be found here and on top of that everything feels cheap when it comes to the competition segments of the show. There seems to be no point other than can people who live in squalor get it together enough to literally pound the stuffing out of the people living in luxury. Fun.