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"Todd TV" Review

By Shawn McKenzie 04/06/2004

It’s odd when some shows barely show up on the radar.  This seemed to be the case for FX’s interesting (at least I thought so) reality series, “Todd TV.”  It came the closest to matching the concepts of the movies EdTV and The Truman Show, yet no one watched it.  Heck, you’re probably reading this now and trying to remember it, even though the finale aired last month.


Todd Santos was a 30-year-old pretty boy bum.  He wanted to be a musician, but he didn’t do jack squat in pursuing it.  Instead, he languished in his waiter job in Hermosa Beach, California.  What he needed was someone to tell him what to do…and that someone was America.  Viewers got to vote by computer, telephone, or text message the direction of all portions of his life for seven weeks.  They controlled his career choices, his love life, and his family affairs.  They followed him around 24/7, whether he liked it or not.  He had to do everything the viewers requested or he wouldn’t get the $5000 that the show agreed to pay him each week.  Viewers had two types of commands…stupid little individual requests (like eating a hot pepper or do a dance) and vote in the weekly poll.  At the end of each episode, viewers were asked a question (or two) with two choices of answers for each that would direct his life in a major way.  He would find out the results of at least one of the questions at Todd Hall, a meeting of all the major players in the episode, where he would also find out the new questions.  The host of this show, and the person who delivered all of the viewer’s requests and decisions, was George Gray, the man who hosted the syndicated daytime version of “The Weakest Link.”


In the first episode, we met Todd.  Despite the fact that he signed up for this show, he felt bothered by all of the camera stuff and having to obey every command.  They make him quit his waiter job, which his now ex-bosses were very happy about.  He was then forced to work as a paperboy.  He was also required to see a therapist named Dr. Pavlo, even though he didn’t feel that he needed therapy.  Finally, he got to do something fun when he got to work with producer Don Was to record the theme song to his show, called “Dope.”  His first set of Viewer Questions were:  Should he live with his mom (who he has a dysfunctional relationship with) or Dr. Pavlo?...and…Should he get a job delivering singing telegrams or as an assistant to Poison’s Bret Michaels?


He ended up living with the doc and working for Bret, both to his great relief.  He was then forced to date hot women…and he actually had a problem with it!  This guy had some major issues.  Anyway…after some speed dating, he had two women, Gina (who gives him attitude) and Stacy (who is shy), to choose from (actually, America would choose for him, because if it was up to Todd, he wouldn’t have picked either.)  They also choose his style of dress:  rock star or conservative (both sucked to me.)


America decided to have him date Gina and dress rock star-like (I notice that both don’t last long.)  He dated Gina, but then had sex with his “fun buddy” Andrea, a girl he has known for awhile.  The next choices for the viewers were:  Keep dating Gina or make his own dating choice, which may include Andrea…and…form a band with Bret’s help or sing on the beach for money.


They choose Andrea and Bret’s help.  Bret helped him pick his band, and he went with a punk group called B9 (I have no clue why, since he would have obviously fit better with most of the other bands.)  Andrea wanted a commitment from Todd, and he wasn’t willing to give it to her, even though she was a really hot girl who appeared to be nice as well (if you haven’t picked it up yet, Todd was an idiot.)  It was at this point where I forgot the viewer choices, so I will just tell you the results.


Somewhere amongst this action, he moved out of his apartment and lived with a couple of control freaks.  The guy made him do his chores, and the woman was a health nut who wanted him to eat wheat grass and get a colonic.  He also got to cut a demo with B9, but they didn’t do it in the way he liked it (big shocker there.)  He also broke up with Andrea and got a dog from the pound and a motorcycle.  A portion of the show was handed over to Todd’s control at one point (instead of handing that control over to a viewer who thought he could make it better), and he wanted to spend it trying to prove that he wasn’t a big baby.  He was given a job doing A&R work for a record label, which he screwed up.


The final decision for America was whether he got to keep it all or go back to his old life.  Despite being highly unlikable (at one point, they threatened to replace him with another guy named Todd), America loves a happy ending, so they let him keep all the stuff.  Good luck Todd.


This is how little this show was watched…even I didn’t watch a single episode until it had finished its entire season.  I had all seven episodes on my TiVo, and I didn’t get to them until it was over.  When I did finally watch them, it hooked me.  I immediately didn’t like Todd, yet I wanted to see what would happen to him.  Having all the episodes play back-to-back cut down on the suspense of the viewer choices.


I think that this show would have worked if they had cut out the silly choices (like how he dressed and the whole paperboy thing) and the viewer requests.  They should have just kept it at major life changes.  Either way, I think that Todd still would have whined about it.

Todd TV” was an interesting experiment that could have been better.  I found out that the show was the American version of a reality show called “Masterplan,” first launched in Portugal and Holland.  Todd was chosen from more than 1,500 men.  I wonder if they wanted a whiny, ungrateful man, or they just liked his bum status (so they would have something to fix up.)  I would watch a second season of the show, but that ain’t happening, since the ratings were in the toilet (I kept picturing the “American public” to be only five people.)  I hope someday to find out if Todd made any progress after the show, but I’m afraid that it will remain one of TV’s great mysteries.


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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