January 16, 2012

TV: The Revolution (ABC daytime)

In its ongoing attempt to fill its entire daytime schedule into clones of The View, ABC today premiered The Revolution, in which a panel of five hosts help women transform themselves.

The better known members of the show's panel are Ty Pennington (Remember when he was on Trading Spaces and he was really cute? Now he looks like beef jerky brought to life) and Tim Gunn; they are responsible for, respectively, decor and fashion. They're joined by Harley Pasternak (fitness and nutrition), Dr. Jennifer Ashton (who is always addressed as "Dr. Jennifer," and is responsible for health), and Tiffanie Davis Henry (self-help and mental health).

Each week, the show focuses on a different "hero," a woman who has turned herself over to the show for a five-month process of transformation. The first week actually has a pair of heroes, sisters who want to lose weight and develop lives that are more independent of one another. Each day of the week follows one month of the hero's process, with the reveal of the fully transformed woman on Friday.

That makes it hard to judge the show in certain ways. One of the strengths of The View (and of its food-centric clone The Chew) is the interaction among the regular panelists. But there's less of that on this show, which tends to be divided into segments featuring one host at a time -- Tim's "Timtervention" fashion segment, an exercise segment with Harley, and so on.

And since much of today's episode, which introduces us to the Harris sisters and follows their first month of progress, was filmed four months ago, the hosts haven't yet had a lot of time to develop much chemistry even when they do work together. It'll be interesting to see if they feel more like a team on Friday's episode, which will have been filmed more recently. The first few months of the show may have a very odd weekly structure -- awkward group interaction on Monday, progressing daily to lively team on Friday. (I'm not quite interested enough to watch a full week to see how this dynamic progresses, but I do plan to catch Friday's show to see if the group's interaction is noticably changed.)

Even if the group chemistry improves, though, this strikes me as by far the least interesting of ABC's panel shows; the individual elements are all things that are being done better on other shows. Much will depend, of course, on how well cast the weekly heros are and on how well the show can develop the audience's interest in them. But it seems like it's going to be largely the same show every week, and not a terribly compelling one. It may simply be that I find the pop culture/gossip of The View and the food chat of The Chew more interesting than the personal transformation on display here, and those who enjoy this sort of psychodrama may find The Revolution absolutely delightful.

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