A new reality series tracing the ancestral roots of Americans is coming to PBS directly from Ireland. The format for Genealogy Roadshow was created by an Irish production company, Big Mountain Productions.
Know something about antiques? Prove it,” screamed the ad seeking “pickers” for Market Warriors, the long-awaited companion series to PBS’s most popular primetime program, Antiques Roadshow. Though PBS pioneered the concept of reality television with American Family and other cinema verité documentary series, it refrained from adding more reality TV as the genre became a staple of commercial television. But with the coming summer season and beyond, PBS is dipping into the reality game. A trio of unscripted programs — each coproduced by Boston’s WGBH— will premiere within the next year.
“As educational as magnetic,” says Los Angeles Times TV critic Howard Rosenberg. “Intimate, eye-opening and completely fascinating,” raves Salon’s Joyce Millman. “Brilliantly disguised as just another reality show . . . the very best TV show of 2002,” gushes Aaron Barnhart of the Kansas City Star.
A diverse group of Americans placed in a remote and inhospitable locale must overcome physical challenges and psychological stress for a chance at winning a huge prize that will change their lives. Sound like an idea for a “reality TV” series? Actually, the description fits not only a forthcoming PBS series — The Frontier House, a sequel to 1900 House that’s scheduled for next April and May —