Top Hooker reels in non-anglers, Food Network Star deflates

Two competitions kicked off last night, a brand-new competition and a reboot of an old favorite. Here are my quick responses to both episodes:

Animal Planet’s competition Top Hooker started strong: it was a great first episode. While I’m sure fishing purists–including the ones on the show–were frustrated by the lack of actual fishing until the final challenge, the challenges the producers created were strong and interesting. It’s also well-cast, with a pretty diverse array of characters. I was distracted that the editors used music previously used by SyFy’s Face Off, and literally starting the episode with someone saying “I’m not here to make to make friends” almost lost me, but I’m in to see where this goes.

Meanwhile, Food Network Star debuted its new format, and alas, it made the show a lot less interesting than last season. The mentors worked with the contestants, but as a group, and also joined in judging decisions with Bob and Susie. There was a good amount of Bob and Susie, but without teams, there seemed to be a lack of investment in the pretty weak cast members. I did like the addition of the live focus group, whose laughter or blank stares were a good stand-in for viewers’ responses. It’s hard to imagine any of the cast members having their own show at this point. I hope it picks up, but I’m not hopeful.

The Quest ends its journey stronger than it began

Verlox from The Quest

A review of the finale of summer's best reality series, which wasn't always perfect but was thoroughly entertaining right down to the finish, which included phenomenal challenges and special effects. Will ABC give it a second season?

Plus: an interview with the actor who played Verlox and the ogre.


Shark Tank is getting a spin-off

Shark Tank

Companies that get deals on the show will be followed for this new spin-off.

Also: Before the show began, Shark Barbara Corcoran was cast and then replaced--but then she sent this amazing e-mail and won the job.

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.