Friday, March 9, 2012

Friday Surprise: Home or the Range?

One of the many questions Colby was asking over Twitter during this week's episode is whether viewers thought the cameras should show more of what goes on at the house, or if more time on the show should be spent focusing on the range. Based on the responses Colby was getting and retweeting, I thought I would take a look at how well Top Shot divides its screen time between the two locales, and how the show would change if there was more or less emphasis placed on either.

 I would argue Top Shot, right now, is serving a happy medium between the time spent at the house and that spent on the range. I realize it is a bit of a cop-out to not really criticize the show, but let's look at the structure of the show. Episodes always begin back at the house, but this time is brief. It shows the contestants nailing the targets to the wall and maybe a little time with the team that lost the previous challenge as they discuss how they can rebound in the next challenge. Then its off to the range for a little banter with Colby, and then practicing with that week's weapon. There's a brief visit back at the house as the teams gear up for the challenge, then its off to shooting again. As, I'm writing this, even I'm getting a little bored, so I'm going to assume you know the rest without me picking through it.

What I'm trying to say is the show has a good balance between seeing what happens in the house and what happens on the range. The house portions of the show are necessary for the audience to gain a better understanding of the team dynamics. And even for the parts that end up being shown from the house, there is still so much that is cut out. I'm thinking specifically of Season 2 where we didn't find out until the epilogue episode about the secret alliance that had been in place for the majority of the season, and that there was an  awesome Nerf gun showdown that went on in the house. This shows that there really isn't anything being shown in the house bits that isn't critical to helping the audience understand the progression of the contest.

Think of it this way: In the current season the main theme has been the fractured blue team. If the house portions of the show were cut out, it would be a lot harder to understand why the blue team was having a hard time pulling themselves together. If the only vantage the audience was shown was the practice and the challenge there would be a pretty big disconnect that the audience would have to reconcile. Blue team is full of talented shooters, and on the practice range they have shown their prowess in being able to adapt to different weapons. However there is a big difference between a practice session and pressure filled challenges, which is where things have been falling apart for the blue team. The time spent at the house helps give a better understanding for why the are not functioning as a team, and more importantly helps the audience better understand the decision making process among contestants when teams are sent to the elimination range.

At the same time cutting down on the time spent showing the shooting would be disingenuous to the shows nature. This is a competition show, and while it is good to see how the competitors operate, cutting back on the competition parts would sacrifice what most of the audience is tuning in for. I for one, cannot get enough exploding targets, fast paced shooting, and close contests that often get "All tied up!"

In addition we also have enough cutaways to the one-on-ones with contestants that help give a better idea for how they feel about the challenges, their performance, and the performances of their teammates.

Overall, Top Shot continues to hold its competition and its contestants in the highest integrity. It is the rare reality show that has not fully succumb to the temptation of focusing solely on the drama between the contestants. Instead, it keeps the drama where it belongs, on the intense competition displayed each week.

So what do you like more, home, or the range? Hit the comments and let me know.

Come back tomorrow for this week's edition of Talkin' 'bout.

Follow me on Twitter @cswiets

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