I’ve had some ideas for reality television shows.

It has been pointed out that my ideas are more “elaborate and dangerous practical jokes on innocent people” than television shows. But on the other hand shows like Joe Millionaire and WB’s Superstar USA, and Scare Tactics seem to indicate that elaborate and dangerous practical jokes are a valid entertainment choice.

My first idea is called “The Haunted Manor”. A group of standard attention-whore reality show fodder are placed in an actual haunted house. Last one to quit wins a fabulous and expensive prize.

Naturally the house isn’t actually haunted. But it will be built, and controlled by a high end special effects studio. All of the background, history and so on will be elaborately faked. Given enough lead in time, and enough of a budget a fake special program about haunting could be produced, for the express purpose of convincing people that the house is a real place, with a long documented history.

Once the contestants are inside, it’s just a matter of screwing with them until they start snapping.

The people who run haunted houses for Halloween can already reduce customers to sobbing wrecks. And those customers go in knowing that it’s fake. Imagine how much more could be done with someone who thinks it’s all real, and furthermore has a strong financial motive to stay.

My next idea is called “Apocalypse Island”. The contestants are taken to a big-brother-esque compound, on an island in a nice tropical (And possibly fictitious) third world country. They will not be told the real name of the show going in.
The format, at least as far as the contestants know, is pretty standard fair. Each week they get a series of wacky challenges. Losing the challenges makes them eligible to be voted out of the compound, and once a week they hold an elimination election.

For a week or so before the contest starts, all of the participants, including a few actors, will be sequestered away from civilization. In theory to give them a “safety briefing” about the local area and/or to give them lessons on how to help keep the audiences attention, perhaps even a few classes in how to use some of the special equipment in the compound. That sort of thing.

The real reason is to isolate the contestants so that they cannot realistically learn anything about the location that they are going to. Because a quick Google search might reveal that they were going to an imaginary place. Some of the safety briefings can mention that there is some political unrest in the area. But the folks running the show will be sure to reassure everyone that everything is fine, and that the local insurgents never come this far/like Americans/are generally not a concern.

At the location where all of the classes are taking place much can be done to subtly give the contestants the idea that the country they are in is beginning to experience a major upheaval. Heck at this point on of the planted actors can “get a really bad feeling about this” and back out.

The players get to the compound and spend a few days doing what should feel like normal reality show stuff.
And then the world ends.

An attack is staged. Most of the crew, and even a few cast members are killed when what appears to be a civil war spills into the set. Of course the fatalities are nothing more than blanks, blood quibs, and a few well trained actors. Possibly some explosions that blow up a dock, or a bridge to the mainland or something.

And the plot here doesn’t have to be limited to a revolt breaking out. With the right prompting, special effects, and hints from some actors you could fake any number of dangerous scenarios: nuclear war, catastrophic industrial accident, zombie apocalypse. Really the only limit it the skill of the FX crew and the budget.

The idea is that the contestants are led to believe that the show has gone horribly horribly awry, and that they are now trapped in a dangerous location. Granted they still have a well-stocked compound to live in, but no idea how long it will remain safe for.

At this point the show is filmed entirely from hidden cameras, and it becomes a sort of perverse Gilligan’s Island. The few “surviving” crew members come up with a variety of schemes designed to help contact civilization to arrange some sort of rescue. A panel of judges will periodically vote a contestant out of the compound. The remaining contestants won’t know this of course. All they will know is that every once in a while, one of them disappears without a trace.
I think watching a group of reality show contestants descending into total Lord of the Flies mode will make for some seriously entertaining television.

And yeah, I made peace with the fact that I am a horrible human being years ago.