Showbiz > TV 2007: the Hot and the Not

IN the world of local television, the folk at the stations didn’t seem to offer anything groundbreaking in 2007.
Despite a few new channels made available to the Malaysian audience, bringing so many new programmes to choose from — from dramas to comedies, documentaries to talk shows and from local to international programmes, nothing really stood out and captivated the country like, maybe, Akademi Fantasia (AF) did when it first came out.

Incidentally, if there’s anything 2007 would be remembered as, it would be the year without Akademi Fantasia.

In fact, only a handful of reality talent search shows were offered this year, and many weren’t looking for singers.

While stations looked for the ultimate dance partners, comedians and hosts, it seems that 2007 is the year everyone has had too much of reality show singers and needed a break.

The singing talent reality show juggernaut began its slowdown after Aznil Hj Nawawi, the AF host who basically became the face of the show, finally resigned last year after five seasons.

We will miss him dearly when the new AF gets back on air some time next year, and we wonder, would the new host be able to get us all as teary-eyed when a contestant is eliminated every week? Only time will tell.

Anyhow, while we were unable to follow the drama, fights, love stories, struggle and finally, the coronation of an AF winner this year, fortunately, reality TV was still around, albeit in other shapes. Take for example, Sehati Berdansa on Astro Ria (channel 104).

This show took the concept of celebrity and turned it on its head, asking famous faces to do what they’ve never done on national television before, to dance with their spouses to get money for charity.

It has been really enjoyable seeing professionals taking baby steps, and having to start from scratch to get comfortable in an awkward situation. Many tuned in to catch these stars learn the steps to later perform in front of the live audience who may or may not like them.

With the format of SMS votes still determining who will go and who’s left to proceed to the finale, the drama inherent of reality TV is still there, captivating the audience.

Right now, based on SMS votes alone, it seems a safe bet that celebrity couple Vanidah Imran and Rashidi Ishak, both actors, is on route to win the first prize.

But then again, this is reality TV, where the end might not be what you’d expect.

Besides Sehati Berdansa, this year also sees Malaysians go beyond the comfort of home boundaries to represent the country in a number of ‘reality’ shows.

For the first time ever, Asian Idol was staged, and the competition was held in Jakarta and aired over 8TV, pitting the winners of the ‘Idol’ franchise from the different Asian countries against each other.

Our Malaysian Idol Jaclyn Victor sang her heart out, but sadly for her, Hady Mirza from Singapore won the coveted title.

Going off the stage, we also had not one, but four representatives from Malaysia competing in the reality treasure hunt/adventure show, The Amazing Race Asia, now in its season 2 on AXN (Astro channel 701).

Vanessa and Pamela Chong, sisters to singer Vince, as well as the dancing mothers, Ann Tan and Diane Douglas raced against Asia’s finest for US$100,000.

While these racers ended their adventure months ago, for TV audiences around Asia, the show will only reach its finale some time next year. Will Malaysian win again and repeat history like season 1’s Joe Jer Tee and Zabrina Fernandez?

Sorry, the four are tight-lipped when it comes to the results and even we in the media do not know. Besides that, the fraternal twins Asiah and Yusof Mohamad were chosen among thousands of applicants to venture on AXN original production the Ultimate Escape.

Separated shortly after birth to live in two different countries (Singapore and Malaysia, respectively), the twins used the ‘escape’ to bond and make up for lost time at a getaway of luxurious extravagance. But nothing comes free, as we came to expect from reality shows.

The one catch was that their happy holidaymaking could turn harrowing anytime with locationspecific adventure challenges.

While we talk about TV shows with some ‘reality’ format, here’s one achievement that just seemed more like a fiction. This year, a Malaysian was chosen as the first human to break into the anime world on Animax (Astro channel 715).

Our very own Hannah Tan, the petite TV personality and singer, became Animax’s ambassador, the first of its kind.

While AF might be THE reality show to beat, nothing, we think, can beat being the only human being to conquer anime — it’s out of this world.

However, for 2007, the ‘reality show’ that definitely took us all ‘out of this world’ would be Angkasa 1 (Astro Channel 588), a two-week-long channel dedicated to following the adventures of our first astronaut, Dr Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor Sheikh Mustapha on the space station MIR.

Malaysians got to witness history in the making, as our Angkasawan performed experiments, ate rendang and modeled a batik shirt in space.

So can 2008 top the kind of ‘reality’ we enjoyed this year? Let’s see what AF has in store for 2008 for a start.



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