The Summer Reality Died -- For Now

8/2/2006 4:49 PM PDT

The Summer Reality Died -- For Now

Blame the heat -- or networks' overheated appetite for reality series -- but this summer's non-scripted debuts have wilted badly, leaving audiences with a healthy buffet of repeats rather than original programming during the warm months.

The latest swoon came on Monday night, when ABC's "One Ocean View" made absolutely no waves with audiences, drawing only 3.5 million viewers to land it in third place for the night. But "Ocean View" -- a sort of "Real World" with older, more professional-minded, and less compelling personalities, set in the quiet vacation community of Fire Island, N.Y. -- was just the latest reality series to unfurl with barely a whimper.

Add to that the almost immediate cancellations of ABC's "The One'" and CBS's "Tuesday Night Book Club," as well as the lukewarm performance of NBC's "Treasure Hunters" and "America's Got Talent" -- despite the antics of David Hasselhoff -- and it's clear that audiences were reluctant to give this summer's trove of new reality shows a spin. "One Ocean View" attempted to fuse some of the young urbanite energy of "The Apprentice" with the titillating tanline-baring appeal of "The Real World" or "Big Brother," but, as Troy Patterson of Slate put it, mainly managed to introduce viewers to an "exciting and offensive new social type: the Gen-Y Yuppie."

Its performance was only marginally better than the other "One" on ABC's summer-reality schedule, namely "American Idol" clone "The One," which attracted 3.1 million total viewers on its debut night. That dismal outing managed to get "The One" cancelled after just a single week. CBS's"Tuesday Night Book Club" seemed to attract almost as many eye-rolling reviews as it did eyeballs, and got axed after just two showings.

An ABC spokesperson says that "One Ocean View" will be appearing as scheduled next Monday night.

Of course, this is hardly the first time that reality series have struck out en masse, in summer or otherwise, and it definitely won't be the last, as long as there are people out there willing to make utter fools of themselves or others.