TV: This Time Next Year

This is the strangest TV show I think has ever aired. It’s at least the strangest one I’ve ever seen. And I’ve seen a lot!

It’s almost set up like that idiotic America’s Funniest Videos show, with an audience. But it’s also weirdly like some bizarre time travel game show.

“Contestants” come out one door — the This Time one — and announce what they intend to accomplish in the next year. They exit the stage through that door, the host walks to the other side of the stage, and then the “contestant” re-enters the stage through the Next Year door to tell their tale.

And an entire year has passed within moments.


Oh, I know where the seam is where they stitch together the one-year interval. But how are they even shooting this with an audience? Do they invite the same people back a year later? Is it a different audience a year later watching the taped This Time segment? How bloody unsatisfying it must be to sit as the This Time audience and not know until — unless — you watch the show over a year later!

Here’s a spoiler to give you an idea of what to expect.

A 53-year-old woman who lost her job and gained sixty pounds while depressed over it commits to entering a bodybuilding competition within the next year.

And she did:

Having just re-read Amusing Ourselves to Death, I think Neil Postman would be sitting up and screaming at the screen, shouting, “You see? You see? That is what television is! That is what it does!” And he wouldn’t mean it as a compliment.

There have been shows that purportedly follow people through a sequence of life-changing events — such as The Biggest Loser — but this show cuts out the documenting of effort and goes basically from — well, what the title says: from “This Time” to “Next Year.”

It’s as if Who Wants to be a Millionaire? showed a contestant being introduced and then cut to the contestant leaving the stage with an overlaid graphic showing the amount of money they won.

No journey. Just destination!


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