If there has been a single complaint regarding the move to High Definition television in my house (Or Dorm room, whichever we want to go with here) is that some series remain in Standard Definition. Now, yes, in some cases they are still of higher quality on the HD channels due to signal clarity, but where’s the widescreen? Perhaps it’s because we get spoiled, but tuning into a reality series is a break from our traditional viewing experience.
Now, the barriers are clear: HD cameras are expensive, and reality shows require a lot of them for the various activities which take place. Let’s face it, the whole point of reality television is that it is cheaper than hiring actors, and there are few reality shows that would really benefit from the shift.
However, as Variety reports, one of the shows that will is finally making the move: Mark Burnett is taking ‘Survivor’ HD for its 17th (!) season starting in the Fall. The move will be much appreciated by this viewer, at least – as someone who has stopped watching Survivor out of emotional attachment and has started viewing for the challenges and the novelty of it all, more landscape to look at will prove beneficial.
As the article points out, there are specific challenges to this: Survivor requires a lot of underwater cameras, and in many cases a ridiculous number of angles on challenges or at tribal council. To go to HD will complicate their angles, also, as the wider viewing space might change framing and other such things.
But there are visual advantages: the beauty of the locations has long been a Survivor staple, and now they’ll be even prettier. And while I am somewhat worried about what HD will do to the unkempt competitors, it will just feel more real…and isn’t that the point? (Answer: No, but let’s pretend)
However, while I appreciate the shift for Survivor, the real question that even the Variety article asks is: is The Amazing Race next?
This shift is even more difficult, as it requires a camera for each team along with various location cameras and a crew for Phil. It will definitely be the more difficult transition, but at the same time it would be the most valuable.
The Amazing Race has always been the Cadillac of the current crop of reality shows, and HD would serve its stunning locales and intense situations well. One of the things that makes the show so consistent is that it doesn’t really matter who is running it – the race itself tends to sustain it. I think their Emmy-winning cinematography could only benefit from such a switch, and I really hope they take the money or the effort to make it happen.
Now, since I bring up Survivor and some readers may be curious: I’ve been watching the most recent season, and have been fairly uninterested. I don’t find Ozzy that interesting to watch, Parvati doesn’t know what she’s doing, and Amanda is getting the short end of the stick being stuck with both of them. None of the fans are making a huge impact, and right now the best thing about the show is that I don’t hate any of them. I am hoping that with the merge comes some nice inter-personal conflict, and a competitive finish that isn’t just Ozzy’s coronation.