The Moment: TV Review
10 p.m. Thursday, April 11 (USA)
Charlie Ebersol, Justin Hochberg (THE Company)
Former NFL Quarterback Kurt Warner plays cheerleader in this USA series, encouraging individuals to take the chance to pursue their dream jobs.
If you've paid much attention to professional football in the last decade, you'll know the story of NFL quarterback Kurt Warner, Super Bowl MVP award winner and former bag boy. The latter part is what most people find compelling about Warner, that he never gave up on his dream even when he was bagging groceries. He eventually rose through the ranks of the Arena Football League before being signed by the St. Louis Rams to the NFL in 1999, and going on to glory. USA's new reality series The Moment plays on this idea of hard work paired with golden opportunity. The series is hosted by Warner, who helps give nine people a second chance at their dreams.
USA did a soft launch of the program by airing a preview episode a month before the official premiere: in it, Bob Capita, a tan and amiable, life-long sailing enthusiast, is given the chance to potentially be offered a job as the skipper of an America's Cup vessel. The contestants in each episode, like Capita, have given up on their passions for a variety of reasons (in Capita's case, his father wanted him to take over the family business. In another story, which will act as the true premiere, perky Southern photographer Tracie Marcum closed her shop after a messy divorce). The show then throws them back into the thick of things by offering training for two weeks with a master of their chosen craft (be it NASCAR driving, a White House chef, toy designer, choreographer, orchestra conductor, or whatever else), before potentially getting a job offer that would change their lives.
The other part of this is that most of these individuals are no longer young people just starting out on a career -- they're established, with families and responsibilities to consider in regards to whether or not they'll take this dream job (for which they were nominated for secretly by said families). On the whole, the show milks as much emotion as it can from every minute spent with the families, especially if there are kids involved. In fact, Capita's young son says at one point, "I would miss you [if you were offered the job], but you're fulfilling your dreams, so I'll be ok." Are we sure this isn't a Spielberg film?
The Moment trades on the emotional currency of overcoming fears and embracing change, and even I got choked up a few times. But there were also plenty of skeptical moments when things felt a little too set-up or producer prompted. The Moment feels familiar in a number of ways; many of the editing devices and stalling tactics the lead up to the "dramatic" finale (air quotes necessary) that the show employs will be old hat to most reality show viewers. It also feels a little stretched in its hour-long spot (it might have been better to pair two stories together instead of just one).
The show is like a low-fi version of any number of "dream" competition shows the start with "The" (Job, Voice, Taste, Face, etc). The inclusion of Kurt Warner doesn't particularly help personalize things, either -- while he's a very likable and inspirational guy, he doesn't have a lot of TV personality. Still, The Moment produces some genuine emotion (Tracie Marcum's father quietly steals the show in her episode by just being a sweet old man), but a lot of it feels too predictable and, worse, generic. Which is an odd thing to take away from a show that aims to make dreams come true.