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Knock Knock Live. Who’s there? Fox’s brilliant embodiment of TV’s desperation

Knock Knock Live. Who’s there? Fox’s brilliant embodiment of TV’s desperation
Ryan Seacrest, host of Fox's Knock Knock Live, in front of a suspicious door. (Photo by Diego Corredor/FOX)

Fox tonight debuts Knock Knock Live, a hybrid reality/game show that is a single, brilliant embodiment of broadcast television’s desperation for viewers.

The series, which airs at 9 p.m. ET, is a game show on which a camera crew and famous people show up at contestants’ doors for “an unforgettable moment.” That hints at one of the many parts of the show that seem like calculated efforts to draw viewers–er, more than usual, since, of course, every show wants to draw viewers. But Fox could really use a reality hit right about now. (All the other networks have multiple reality shows/episodes in the top 20; Fox has just one.)

Let’s review its elements:

  • It’s live. Live is the holy grail of television right now because, since it happens just once and anything could happen, people will surely come together ’round their televisions and the Twitter, generating ratings and ad dollars.
  • Five co-hosts from across networks and demographics. Each of them comes with their own, diverse fan base. Tyler Posey from MTV’s Teen Wolf! Country singer and Dancing with the Stars winner Kellie Pickler. The Real co-host and The Cheetah Girls’ Adrienne Bailon. E! personality and RuPaul’s Drag Race judge Ross Mathews. Jordan “Shorty” Johnson, who’s a DJ, 106 and Park co-host, and recording artist. Chuey Martinez, DJ and host of Travel Channel and HLN shows.
  • Ryan Seacrest. He’s the official host, and will apparently be in a studio while others travel. Besides hosting American Idol, of course, and being recognizable and generally congenial, he commands a considerable audience worldwide on radio. His morning show is chopped into pieces and rebroadcast in local markets, where it’s spliced together with audio he’s recorded that makes it sound like he is the local station’s DJ. So, he has a personal connection with a large, potential audience.
  • Special guests. In case five co-hosts aren’t enough and/or famous enough, guest stars include Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, David Beckham, Meghan Trainor, Lea Michele, Common, Demi Lovato, failed BB Takeover guest Rob Gronkowski, and others.
  • Social media magnets. The people above have large social media followings, and social media–especially Twitter–is where people go to discuss live television shows. Also, they can promote the show to their followers.
  • Feel-good contestants and moments. Fox’s press releases make it clear that they aren’t just choosing random people and games, but instead are going for the heartstrings: “This series will take an ordinary day and make it unforgettable” with “unpredictable and thrilling surprises that enlists friends, families, neighbors and celebrities to help grant wishes with one simple knock on the door.” The network is also casting for warm stories and TV-worthy moments: “Do you know someone with an incredible story that should be shared with the world… someone who is truly deserving of gifts such as a vacation, new wardrobe or a new car? Do you know a teacher who goes above and beyond, someone in your community who is constantly making a difference, or maybe you have a big surprise that you would like to reveal?”

Will all of this work? On paper, it seems like everything  But it also seems oddly boring, too paint-by-the-numbers to be exciting. That may just be my read of its assembled elements, and we won’t really know until tonight.

What I do know is that I’ll be watching live to see, which means Fox has already won the first battle.

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About the author

  • Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means. Learn more about Andy.

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