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"I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!" Review

By Shawn McKenzie 02/23/2003

I had commented in my review of “Are You Hot? The Search for America’s Sexiest People” (see my review) that ABC doesn’t know how to learn from their own mistakes.  There is evidence of that once again with their fifteen day reality show “I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!”  The problem with this show is that there is not one bit of originality here, and the elements that are ripped off are boring.


Based off a British show of the same name, “I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!” is “Survivor” with celebrity has-beens.  The cast includes model Tyson Beckford; former MTV host “Downtown” Julie Brown; Olympic runner Bruce Jenner; “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” host Robin Leach; Red Carpet reporter for E!, Melissa Rivers; actress and former wife of rocker Rod Stewart and actor George Hamilton, Alana Stewart; and one of Howard Stern's radio regulars, rocker Stuttering John.  Standup comic John Lehr hosts the show.  These “celebrities” leave behind their coddled lives for fifteen days of roughing it in a remote outpost of the Australian rainforest.  The series will let viewers vote to control what happens to them while they are there.  We get to see them whine about how hard it is out there.  They will live out in the open, sleeping on cots and eating rice, beans, and water.  In week one, the viewers chose a celebrity each night to carry out a dare, which is called “The Bush Tucker Trial,” in order to win extra food for the rest of the group.  In the final week, viewers will get to vote to keep their favorite contestant in the camp.  The one receiving the least number of votes each night is forced to leave.  The last celebrity at the end of the trial will win the game, the prize being a large sum of money for their favorite charity (I’m not sure what that sum is at the moment.)


Aside from the obvious “Survivor” rip-off, the show “borrows” from other shows as well.  The has-been angle was already done recently on the WB’s “The Surreal Life” (and much more effectively.)  While “The Surreal Life” was funny to watch, “I’m a Celebrity” is just sad.  The show also takes the concept of the first season of CBS’s “Big Brother” and is running it live on multiple nights.  I realize that “Big Brother” was only on five nights a week, but both shows seem to be set up the same way.  Each episode essentially recaps that previous day’s highlights, and very little of it is actually live.  The live part consists of Lehr visiting the group, and in that annoying Ryan Seacrest “American Idol”-style, teases the group before revealing who will be the next one to face the Bush Tucker Trial.


CBS learned from their mistake with the first season of “Big Brother” when the second season premiered.  Aside from changing some rules, the most significant thing they did was scaling the show back to three nights a week.  The result was that the show became much more fun to watch, and the ratings improved.  The ratings so far for “I’m a Celebrity” have been less than impressive, and I’m sure the people who did tune in are getting tired of the show already (I know I am.)


Why can’t ABC learn from “Big Brother” and their own “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” that too much of one show a week is too much for the audience to care about?  Maybe the ratings hit they take with this unoriginal, unexciting show will knock some sense into them, but with the zillion reality shows that ABC has coming up, I somehow doubt it.


Ratings System:


Try to catch this show every week...

If a better show is on, tape this one...

If nothing else is on, maybe this will be good...

If this show is on, change the channel immediately!


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