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10 Awesome Non-Scripted TV Shows for Guy's Guys

Robert Manni - Thursday, May 01, 2014

Okay, I get it. All television is scripted. I’m not talking about mainstream series like “Scandal”, “Revenge” or even “The Family Guy”. I’m referring to all those wacky cable shows that somehow hook our interest when we’re surfing the gazillion channels clogging up the cable box. When I embarked on my research for this blog I was amazed at how many ridiculous shows are currently on air, many of them already in seasons four and five. So, using a male-centric Guy’s Guy filter and eliminating the obvious “ESPN SportsCenter” here are ten tasty shows that guys can confidently invest a smattering of their psychic energy in. So, in no particular order…

1. INK MASTERS (Spike) – Hosted by rock’s Dave Navarro and a handful of the world’s best tattoo artists, this competition show uses real people as canvases for contestant’s to demonstrate their ink design skills. Hey, who wouldn’t want a “X-Men” character adorning their thigh or neck? The artists are good, but I feel bad for those bozos that agree to be permanently defaced with a failed design. But who knows, maybe they actually wanted that bad version of the Wolverine’s face and claws on their chest.

2. BAR RESCUE (Spike) – If you are a failing bar owner who is about to lose his home because he runs a skivvy venue that should be shuttered by the Board of Health and manned by a staff of rejects who skim tabs and can’t mix a Cosmo, then Jon Tafer is the man for you. Jon is a total Guy’s Guy. He and his team occupy the bar in question for a week. While ferreting out the problems, they break down the owner, staff, and the actual venue. Then with a special version of tough love and common sense, Jon rebuilds the business, the staff’s morale and the bar. You can place your bets on how long it will be before the owners refer to their old ways again after Jon leaves, but for a brief moment in time, their dreams are reborn. Way to go, Jon.

3. BOBBY FLAY’S THROWDOWN (Cooking Channel) – This former Food Network staple has found new life on their sister station filled with recycled content. At the onset of each show a bike messenger delivers Flay’s latest challenge. He might take on the biscuits and gravy champ in Chattanooga or the meatball king of Bronx. It doesn’t matter to our Bobby. He battles all comers and with the help of his crack staff, he owns about a .300 winning percentage. You can also pick up a number of cooking tips while being entertained. Nice show.

4. FIRST TAKE (ESPN) – Even in non-scripted television conflict is a key to the storytelling. If you’ve ever watched one of the housewives shows, you’ll know what I mean. Behind the desk of First Take are Skip Bayless, hailing from Oklahoma, Stephen A. Smith from Queens, New York and hottie, Carrie Champion, who acts as referee. Skip and Stephen A. both have long careers in sports journalism and a healthy dose of diarrhea of the mouth. I say this as a compliment because they can wax on endlessly any topic relating to sports without coming up for air until the next commercial break. Even my year old son turns his head when he hears Stephen A. start to wind up on a topic that he feels passionate about, like the Dallas Cowboys.

5. BREAKING THE MAGICIAN’S CODE (Bio) – If you ever wondered how a magician makes a girl’s torso disappear, makes spirits appear, or survives the fiery blades of depth, this is the show for you. In these days where selling out means good business, I’m wondering when the rest of the magicians trying to make a living are going to make this show and its participants permanently disappear.

6. KAYAK FISHING WITH JIM SAMMON (Fishing Channel) – Yes, there is a fishing show with a host named sammon, even if it is spelled differently than the fish. What could be more relaxing than sitting back and watching Big Jim paddle around the rivers and lakes of the Pacific Northwest in a tricked out kayak, casting his lines and scooping up fresh water beauties? Answer: Being Jim Sammon and getting paid to do this.

7. ALIEN MYSTERIES – Discovery - I have studied a number of books about alien contact. The consistencies I’ve read are that they are here, there are different species, and there are many who want to help. But, of course, we’re not ready for the truth. So instead, we’re fed scary stories of little gray creatures with big eyes that abduct us and shove cattle prods up our butts. Each episode begins by teasing the audience in the hopes that the final, uncontestable proof of alien contact will be offered. But, by the six commercial break or so, they show that photo of an ominous creature who we are reminded might have plans for enslaving the human race.  The show does investigate a number of ne sightings and cover ups, so if you are curious, there is fresh content delivered.

8. UNTAMED FLORIDA (NatGeoWild) - For some reasons, consumers love to watch shows featuring alligators and crocodiles. I guess the combination of curiosity and fear, along with the fact that you are safe at home in your armchair and not wandering through a southern swamp in the darkness makes for good viewing. What this show boils down to is that as crazy as the SoBe party scene is, Florida is a state populated with all sorts of wild creatures.

9. CHOPPED CANADA (Food Network) - Anyone who watches the Food Network can see that it is close to jumping the shark with so many shows featuring cupcake, food cart, dessert, and Iron Chef competitions. “Chopped” was a fresh ideaseven years ago. Now, for some reason, the brand has been extended north to Canada, which is not what we usually consider the epicenter of gourmet cooking. That said, this show fun to watch. The ingredients in the basket are different than in the US and the competing chefs are not quite as talented. So the competitions feel more organic than the gold standard set with the original show. The other thing I like is the judges are not as full of themselves as the New York judges.

10. CONSIRACY THEORY (Bio) - Jesse Ventura is a character. He's the former governor of Minnesota, former professional wrestler, and a free spirit who's not afraid to speak his mind. Of course he is often discredited and branded as a kook, but he does not back down from his points of view. Jesse and his team explore topics usually tinged with government security issues.  We see him get shut down at the point of entry to many areas of the country that are supposedly free open space. In one show Jesse and his team of experts explained that the government was breeding a new species of half-human mutant super solider in a hidden location that he tracked down. The show’s airing time gets juggled around by the network, so of course, Jesse says that this is part of a conspiracy to keep him quiet.

I could keep going with these shows, but the list is endless. The point is, if you’ve had enough of dark depressing television series produced with binge-watching in mind, you might find a few nuggets of light entertainment here that don’t take up all of your free time.

This week’s Guy’s Guy of the Week is Mark Burnett, who brought us “Survivor”, the first real original non-scripted/reality show hit.

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