No one has been a bigger critic of The CW and their bonehead decisions than me. Of course the freefalling ratings over the last season proved me right, but I felt no vindication since it only put my favorite show, Supernatural, in jeopardy of not having a home.
When I heard that The CW sold out their Sunday night programming to Media Rights Capital, an independent production company, I - like everyone else - took that to be a huge sign that this network was in serious trouble. Considering the shows announced catered to an 18-49 audience and didn’t feature the usual vapid teen fare that this network has been shoving down my throat (Thursday nights excluded), I decided to give it a try.
After watching the premieres of 4Real, In Harm’s Way, Valentine, and Easy Money, I was actually impressed. I didn’t go into these shows with any expectations so there was nothing for them to live up to, but I didn’t turn off the TV afterward wondering how I was going to get that part of my life back. I was entertained.
4Real is an interesting concept that’s effectively presented. This was the US network television debut. It previously aired on CTV in Canada and has been viewed by millions in other countries. A celebrity travels with host Sol Guy to a remote region of the world to meet local leaders who are influencing change under extreme circumstances. The show offers a bird's-eye view of issues affecting these areas, like eroding cultural identity and poverty. Their storytelling style is compelling, bringing out more than just a report of what these people do, but showing their impact on humanity.
In the first half hour, I thought Cameron Diaz acted a bit too moonbeamish, but that didn’t take away from the profile of the rural people in the Andes who are trying hard to get younger generations to embrace their roots. The more powerful message, though, came in the second half hour when K’naan, a rapper from Somalia and once a refugee, went to Kiberia in Kenya, the largest slum in East Africa. The profile is much different than watching faces of starving children on a Sally Struthers infomercial. We see huge depth in this community, their struggles against disease and poverty, and their dreams for the future. Sure, there is sadness to the story, but hope as well. I hope that 4Real earns a better time slot than 5pm, because it’s worthy of prime time.