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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

4th and Long, or Man in Black

Last night, Spike TV premiered it's new reality series 4th and Long, a show giving 12 potential football stars the chance to go to Dallas Cowboys training camp this summer. Hosted by Michael Irvin, who can't seem to find a wardrobe change to save his life (literally, he wears the exact outfit in both of these pictures for the entire first episode, which, wouldn't bother me, but supposedly the episode takes place over several days. So is he lazy, or does he just really really like the size of that collar on his unbuttoned black shirt? And I digress...), the show actually provides some much needed football in an otherwise football free time of year.

And thank god! After HBO announced that The Bengals would be the subject of this year's season of "Hadknocks," I was afraid I was actually going to have to wait until August to see people cracking heads. Luckily, Spike came along and filled the void nicely, recruiting hall of fame coaches and players from Cowboys history to add more legitimacy to this series out of the gate. After all, where does your mind go when you see a commercial that simply features a shot of Jerry Jones asking Irvin to "Bring me a ballplayer," in his most drawled voice to date? I didn't expect much. It seemed very "reality" to me, that being half the reason to tune in to begin with: we rubber-necking Americans love a car crash.

Since the genre's inception, we've come to recognize most reality shows for what they are: fame hungry whores and douchebags "competing" (I use that word loosely) for a prize that is forgotten when the show ends. Sure, there's 12 guys (6 defensive backs, 6 wide receivers) vying for 1 spot, but really it's just 11 weeks of someone getting cut. And that's why we watch. Hell, I half expected Donald Trump to pull up, purse his lips, and thank Mark Burnett for producing the show. Not so though, thank god, though the music sure had me thinking otherwise. Instead of a mansion, they stay at the Cotton Bowl. Literally, sleeping in press boxes and locker rooms, eating, living and working all at the same place. And just in case it seemed too "tv show" for you, Irvin said explicitly "I don't want to hear any shit about how this is a reality tv show. This is a football try out for the Dallas Cowboys." (Great. Now if you could just change clothes, maybe I'd listen.)

Whether or not that turns out to be true, it's left me wanting little more from the franchise thus far. If they keep at this pace, this show has a chance to become one of my favorites of the year.

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