Siberia, the TV show, sounds like a boring documentary on the things that live in northern Russia (actually, almost nothing lives there). But it is a reality competition in which everything has gone wrong. Contestants die. The production crew disappears. That is my kind of reality show.
The premise of Siberia is simple: 16 contestants fight one another for cash prizes in the dead land that is Siberia. It’s a little like Survivor, but in a meteor crash site in the frigid north rather than some tropical paradise.
I’d be willing to watch it if it weren’t for one tiny hiccup. Siberia the TV show is faked.
NBC premiered the show Monday night to lukewarm reviews. Being a twist on the “found film” genre, Siberia should be bringing something new and interesting to the table. It’s something that hasn’t really been done before. (If it has been done, clearly it sucked so bad that people want to forget it happened.)
But like The Blair Witch Project, founder of the genre, Siberia the TV show falls flat.
Satire is a widely popular style of film. Usually, satire pieces come out when a genre has pretty much died. It’s given us classics like Blazing Saddles and Airplane! Reality TV is ripe for satirical development. Siberia just missed the mark a bit.
Mel Brooks’s movies are probably the best examples of satirical writing. The reason they succeed is that they embrace the ridiculousness of the genre without copying it. That seems to be Siberia’s problem. It tries too hard to look like a reality show with over-the-top arguments, ludicrously petty bickering and pathetically stereotypical characters.
For a show that should be blazing the way in a new style of television, Siberia isn’t living up to what it could be. Producers will have to do some work on subsequent episodes if they want the show to survive. But the show does have one thing going for it: a lot of stupid people will die in very gruesome ways, and that is always fun.