Premiere of The Benefactor

I watched the premiere of The Benefactor last night.

Mind you, as I had just moved and currently had no cable or DirecTV, I had to bully a friend into letting me come over and watch. Mind you, it was supposed to start at 8pm but didn’t start here on the West Coast until 9:15 because of the game. I fear, deep down, that being delayed by Monday Night Football may have a negative effect on the show.

As for the show itself, I can see the seams.

The problem for me, being involved in production and post production was that I saw every single moment from every day of production. So when you see it neatly packed into six acts over the course of a 43 minute television program (amidst the commercials), you ask yourself where this thing was or where that thing was. I was amused, however, to see that I am actually in the opening of the show (you see Mark sitting and eating at a diner with a guy next to him wearing a hat and a blue and yellow numbered t-shirt…I’m the guy sitting next to him)…

I was also amused to see that the sizzle reel I produced for the show…that ABC took the rhythm and shots I put together with the editor and used it as a teaser for the rest of the season of the show. It was good work on my part, obviously, as it was re-used and re-cut by the Network…but in a very similar way.

But the real question is…will the show succeed?

Knowing what I know about what’s in store for the remaining 13 contestants, I can tell you that if people give it a chance they won’t be disappointed. But there will be people who will never return based on their inability to “track the game.” What I mean by that is that since it’s Mark’s game and the rules change based on his every whim, people have a hard time figuring out how people can win or lose. The Apprentice is easy to track — two teams, one goal…team who reaches that goal quicker or with better results wins. Losing team sacrifices someone up for the slaughter.

Here, Mark Cuban decides. He knows what it takes to be a success. Things like competitiveness, someone’s ability to shine, be creative, independent, funny, a risk-taker… Those are the things that he will look for in contestants… If they can shine in open-ended challenges that are dependent on them thinking creatively, they just may win. If they can’t — buh-bye.

When I finished working on the show, I can tell you that I became quite fond of a handful of the contestants. These are good, real, genuine people who go through some real changes based on the experience they shared. If you hang in there, you’ll see it.

If you don’t — I won’t blame you. There’s just too much similar fare on TV these days and sometimes, some shows have to take the bullet for it.

The Benefactor premiere episode re-airs this Thursday at 8pm on ABC. If anything, you can watch it again to see my name in the credits.

13 comments on “Premiere of The Benefactor

  1. Dylan - September 14, 2004 at 8:54 am -

    Hey Pauly,

    Living in Dallas, and as a reader of your blog, I watched the premier yesterday.

    First of all, I wouldn’t worry about the show doing badly because of football, because it will only be delayed on the west coast. Everywhere else, the show will preceed Monday Night Football. That can only be a good thing.

    I wasn’t as worried about the structure of the show as much as I found myself cringing at Cuban himself. Being from the area and knowing his mannerisms, I found myself going “ewww… why did he do that.” It wasn’t from a “make fun of Mark Cuban” place as much as it was from a “look at the embarrasing things my crazy uncle does” place.

    But I still want to give it a try… there were good things. Don’t worry, I think you are gonna be alright.

  2. steve - September 14, 2004 at 9:16 am -

    I plopped myself down in front of my HDTV amd said to my wife, “This should be interesting. It’s the first Reality TV show that’s in HD.” Needless to say — I was quite disappointed to see that the show was plain old SD. I would have thought that Cuban would have heard that HD is the wave of the future. 😉

  3. monkeyinabox - September 14, 2004 at 10:20 am -

    Jenga? Jenga? Jenga? Real playas would use ‘The Block Game’ when the stakes are big. 🙂

    The Monday Night Football thing was a pisser. Of course I couldn’t watch the show live, so I had to tape it. Thankfully, ABC started one broadcast of the show at ~9:15 and another at 10:00 (I tried taping from 9-10). I was able to watch the end and then go back to my tape for the beginning of the show.

    If Cuban is doing anything it’s making the people paranoid. This should be good.

  4. Hilary - September 14, 2004 at 10:36 am -

    Uh oh. I Tivo’d the show last night. (Sorry, it was up against Las Vegas–Josh Duhamel. Priorities.). And now I’m seeing a potential Tivo disaster since it didn’t start on time.

  5. RW - September 14, 2004 at 10:36 am -

    I read the less-than-glowing review in the SF Chronicle, but I watched it anyway.

    It was kind of fun watching the shocked looks on the contestant’s faces when they realized it was all about whether or not Mark Cuban liked them or not.

    Above all, the show is not stupid.

    After I watched it, I understood why the tv reviewer in the Chronicle called it “stupid” about 50 times. But it’s not.

  6. Pauly D - September 14, 2004 at 10:45 am -

    Everyone is, of course, basing their reviews on the first episode only, which I think pales in comparison to the rest of the series (which is unfortunately not how it’s supposed to be.)

    But… what I loved, and which starts next week are the open-ended challenges Mark gives the players. From that point forward it’s not about what they said while Mark was watching them while hidden in another room — it’s about how creative and original these players are given the challenges put in front of them.

    Watch out for these players – some are NOT what they seem.

  7. RW - September 14, 2004 at 11:23 am -

    You are right, of course. I got the impression as I watched the show that the Chronicle reviewer was being immature and childish in his efforts to irritate Mark Cuban from afar.

    Every season, I try to resist getting sucked into the new season of shows (vast wasteland and all that), but I’ll try to watch this show.

    It’s not really often I get the chance to exchange views with the show’s producer…

    Congratulations on getting the show on the air, Pauly D. That’s pretty nifty. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything quite like it, actually. Hope it does well.

  8. em - September 14, 2004 at 12:14 pm -

    missed it but i will most definitely watch on Thurs. congratulations Pauly–job well done!

  9. Jonathan - September 14, 2004 at 1:12 pm -

    Don’t worry about the structure of the show not being the same as every single other reality show on tv. That’s what I enjoyed about it the most.

    It seemed like Mark was having the best time doing whatever he wanted to on a whim, and that just made it that much more entertaining to watch for me. It’s fun not knowing what he may pull out of his ass and seeing how the players react to it like with the jenga thing.

    Can’t wait for the next episode!

  10. Enigma - September 14, 2004 at 1:17 pm -

    i’m sorry i missed it. i was planning on downloading it, but i’ll catch the re-airing. personally, i don’t really like the apprentice. i only saw some episodes when it was up against repeats. it might be fun to watch people dance to the whim of a rich guy.

  11. monkeyinabox - September 14, 2004 at 1:23 pm -

    I’m not sure how any review of a REALITY show can base so much on the first episode. No one knows the people then, no one cares who they are and if they leave or win. The Benefactor shocked the hell out of a few people, so Bravo for doing something interesting. The first episode of Survivor is usually predictable and unless someone dies or is mauled by a wild monkey, I’ll be yawning.

  12. chase - September 14, 2004 at 3:31 pm -

    It seemed like Mark was a kid in a candy store. Was the sizzle reel the “coming this season on the Benefactor” thing at the end? I liked the quote from the pro football lady about hitting it out of the park. That was good.

  13. lori - September 14, 2004 at 8:04 pm -

    hey pauly,

    sorry I missed it last night, but I’ll catch it on Thursday. just so you know, the morning radion djs were talking about it here in dallas and it got rave reviews.

    it’ll be a hit. i have a feeling about this one. and you know my feelings are never wrong…well except for that one and it doesn’t count because i was medicated.

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