Just like the first few rounds of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire are riddled with questions like "Who was the first U.S. President?" and "How do you spell cat?" the first few episodes of any new reality series is going to be jam-packed with wheel-spinning and fat-trimming. We started On the Lot with fifty prospective filmmakers, and after less than 90 minutes of televised competition, we're now down to precisely 24.

Yep, more than half the contestants (most of whom never even receive any camera time) are gone in less than 90 minutes and, based on what we've seen thus far, the remaining contestants are convinced that movie directors do nothing besides point a camera, shush people and behave like jerks. In episode one, the players were required to deliver a "pitch" to our judges (Carrie Fisher, Garry Marshall, Brett Ratner) and all of them were awful. Then everyone got paired up into teams of three and were sent out to do a three-scene movie in 24 hours. This gave us plenty of chances to see how clueless the contestants were. (One of 'em even called Brett Ratner a genius, I think.)

Then a bunch of the players were eliminated (fairly arbitrarily if you ask me) after the "team" films were screened. (Director Jon Avnet stepped as a judge for Mr. Marshall on this cut-down round.) I found it pretty telling that the judges AND the contestants were blown away by the one short film that employed some special effects. So the first 1.5 episodes were kind of a washout. (Seems like Variety and The Hollywood Reporter also think so.) The two competitions were pretty lame, the footage of the "snarler turned sobber" felt cribbed from every reality show under the sun, and there wasn't nearly enough time to "get to know" any of the players. I'm confident that things will get a little more interesting from this point on. The next challenge? Shoot a one-page script in one hour. Tune in tonight (May 28) to see how those movies turned out. It's a two-hour episode, so be sure to bring some popcorn. (Oh, and it looks like Fisher and Marshall are locked in as "regular" judges for the entire season. Tonight, director D.J. Caruso is stepping in for Mr. Ratner. So they're improving ... slowly.)
categories Features, Cinematical