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The Show (2017)

Blu-ray Disc Released: 11/7/2017

All Ratings out of





Review by Mike Long, Posted on 11/2/2017

The term "reality show" has become a part of our modern vernacular, but it's an odd concept. Television programs which show real people doing real things have been around since the inception of the medium. However, it was nearly two decades ago that we saw the birth of the contemporary "reality show", a sub-genre which combined a game show with a documentary, as we watched individuals struggle through some sort of challenge or competition with the hopes of winning a prize. So, given how "new" the concept of the "reality show" is, it's funny how old some of the ideas in The Show, a movie about a reality show, are.

Adam Rogers (Josh Duhamel) is the host of a dating competition show. As the results are announced on the finale, one of the contestants snaps and acts of violence ensue. Shaken by this event, Adam takes no comfort from network executive Ilana Katz (Famke Jannssen), who is relieved to learn that the company won't get sued. Adam becomes determined to use the tragedy to change television. Roping in producer Sylvia (Caitlin Fitzgerald), Adam presents his idea for a new kind of reality show -- one which focuses on death in order to show strong and resilient people can be. The public is shocked and offended by the show at first, but its unflinching portrayal of violence draws huge ratings. As Adam becomes more and more obsessed with the show, it's message starts to get muddied.

We've all probably seen a foreign film or an art film or a Transformers movie where the plot was difficult to follow. As an highly educated person, I would like to think that I can understand most movies. However, The Show lost me in the first act. In order to describe this, I'm going to have to divulge some plot points, but I don't feel as if I'm giving anything away, because how can you give away something that you don't understand? After witnessing death first-hand, Adam decides that he wants to create a reality show which will celebrate life...by having people commit suicide on-camera. This idea is hidden from us until the show begins to air and the movie does not do a good job of explaining Adam's thinking. Then, suddenly, during the opening of the show, Adam goes off-script and announces that not only will the network donate money to the victim's (?) family, but viewers at home can pledge funds as well. Wait a minute, before that decision by Adam, the people on the show were simply going to kill themselves and that was it? What kind of snuff show was this supposed to be? Even with the added notion of a "prize" being involved, the show is still pure sensationalism. Still, for reasons which are beyond me, Adam thinks that he's doing a good thing by having the show portray these actions. As the film progresses, Adam begins to by into his own hype and becomes a villain of sorts. Is this supposed to effect the viewer when we didn't understand his motivations in the first place?

The Show was directed by Giancarlo Esposito, here helming his second feature film. Esposito is better known for his acting and after having been around for years, finally gained national notoriety for his portrayal of Gus Fring on Breaking Bad. He also appears in The Show as the main character in the film's other story arc, where he plays a man who, despite working two jobs, can't support his family. We are supposed to feel compassion for Esposito's character, and we do, but I don't think that anyone will be surprised when he considers going on "This is Your Death" (Yes, that's what Adam's show is called) to help his family.

Perhaps Esposito should have let someone else take that role and instead focused exclusively on the directing, as The Show has no idea what it wants to be. The idea of a television show which exclusively portrays people committing suicide sounds like something The Running Man and feels as if it would be featured in a nihilistic film about the future. And yet, The Show is squarely rooted in today's reality, so the absurdity of the idea is difficult to be taken seriously. The surprisingly gory moments scream for the film to be taken seriously, but this is a challenge. Then we have the almost preachy nature of the plight of Esposito's character and Adam's struggle to balance commerce and conscience (in a way which makes no sense). The result is a movie which gets dumber with each scene and despite a finale which should pack an emotional punch, those who make it all the way to the end will feel so cheated, confused, and annoyed that they will stop the film and immediately start watching TV.

The Show would make a terrible movie on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Lionsgate. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 20 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look good and the image is never overly dark or bright. The level of detail is fine and the depth works well. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 3.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The opening scene and some of the deaths provide noticeable surround sound effects. The audience for the show delivers surround sound action as their applause smoothly flows from the rear channels.

The Show Blu-ray Disc contains only a few extras. "Making The Show" (13 minutes) is simply a series of comments from Esposito and the cast as they discuss the themes and ideas of the film, as well as describing the characters. "Cast/Crew Interviews" brings us comments from Duhamel, Esposito, Janssen, Callis, Fitzgerald, and Producer Michael Klein, thus offering us slightly longer versions of the clips shown in the previous piece. (And the movie is referred to by its original title "This Is Your Death".) The final extra is a TRAILER for the film.

Review Copyright 2017 by Mike Long