This week, I tuned-in the premier episode of Black Gold with a mixture of curiosity, anticipation and dread. Having watched it, I must admit this latest reality TV foray into West Texas really ain't so bad.
"From the creator of Ice Road Truckers and Deadliest Catch comes a one-of-a-kind series about Texas oil men who gamble everything for a chance to strike it rich," we are told. "Wildcatters risk their life savings and roughnecks risk their lives. Black Gold takes you inside the action as the race for oil heats up."
"In West Texas, three crews of roughnecks hit the ground running in the race to find oil, but all three face disaster on day one. The Viking rig has all the advantages that come with being state-of-the-art, but the crew can barely get the system started. And on the tried-and-true Longhorn rig, the smallest roughneck, Peanut, is crushed by a piece of equipment. Will one crew leader not survive the end of the first week?"
No mention of the third rig in the promotional write-ups ..... although once I saw them on the show, I thought, "Oh, THAT's their disaster."
And I DID get involved in the show, discussed it with My Favorite Landman, watched it to the end and found myself looking forward to the next episode ... which is more than I could say for 2007's Making News: Texas Style, the really bad reality show set in a West Texas television newsroom.
For me, production has a lot to do with the appeal of Black Gold. Just watching the end product, you can tell that a lot more thought, time, effort, people, equipment and money were spent on the shooting, editing and production of this show. Sure, occasionally one camera crew strays into another camera crew's shot - but the total coverage is so much better. AND, there's so much more of it. I saw and heard more product in this first one-hour episode of Black Gold than I did in the first 2 1/2 one-hour episodes of Making News: Texas Style.
And, frankly, with apologies to the men and women in MN:TS - some of whom I have known and worked with for 20+ years - I think the story in BG is more interesting.
I do have a problem with the narration of Black Gold being over-the-top in its writing and its delivery. But I guess that's the nature-of-the-beast nowadays ... television audiences - especially reality TV audiences - simply aren't interested in a more straightforward presentation.
Another problem with the narration involves the description of some of the people you meet in the first episode, and their company. The copy sounded as though it was written by the company's PR office ... it sure was at odds with my perception of said entities, developed over years of observation.
A comment from MFL thought that the whole process seemed a little over-simplified ... 'whichever crew gets down there first, will get the oil and make millions of dollars.' Sill, she enjoyed the first episode, and will probably watch the next.
And I hope YOU will, too.