Live for the Moment -- TV Review



Unlike most people his age, Roger Childs, 41, has a good idea when his time will be up. When he was diagnosed with ALS, he was told he had two to five years left. That was three years ago.

Childs has an adoring wife and two loving sons and, thanks to executive producers Mark Burnett and Jeff Probst, he also has a TV credit. He was cast as the subject in the pilot episode of "Live for the Moment," a smoothly edited, heart-tugging reality series in which nice things are done for people who caught a bad break.

Referring to Childs, Probst says, "The inspirational way he lives his life just may change the way you live yours." Maybe so, but this show still feels emotionally manipulative and at times even uncomfortably invasive.

For purposes of the series, the Childs' timing is perfect. Although he has lost enough fine motor skills to illustrate the unfortunate course this degenerative disease will take, he still has considerable strength and control of his larger muscles and needs very little assistance. Consequently, he is able to take part in all the adventures designed by producers to produce great video while keeping viewers ankle deep in hankies.

These include a tour of the Kennedy Space Center led by astronaut Buzz Aldrin, a ride in a high-performance jet trainer, a Colorado ski adventure with a college roommate he hadn't seen in nearly 20 years and a helicopter ride to a Navy Air Base for a tear-filled reunion/homecoming complete with a few obvious but unanswered questions. (For example, why did his sister, whose note announced an $80,000 scholarship fund for the kids, fail to show up in person?)

There, on the tarmac, Childs tells friends and neighbors to "give it your all," "seize the day" and "keep your eye on what's important in life." Granted, these homey bits of wisdom sound less like cliches when spoken by someone with a keen sense of his own mortality.

Then Probst asks, by show of hands, whether those gathered around Childs likely will be affected by the events of the day and, what do you know, the vote is unanimous.

Future "Moment" stars won't necessarily be terminal cases. According to Probst, they might include "someone who survived a plane crash or maybe a professional athlete who suffered a life-changing injury."

In other words, as long as their private grief can be transformed into entertainment under the guise of inspiration, they're qualified.

Airdate: 8-9 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 28 (CBS)
Production: Jeff Probst Inc. and Mark Burnett Prods.
Creator-host: Jeff Probst
Executive producers: Jeff Probst, Mark Burnett, Denise Cramsey
Co-executive producers: David Eilenberg, Jim Roush, Kathryn Vaughan, Margaret Burris, Kyra Thompson
Line producers: Carl Hansen, Whitney Saunders
Director of photography: Scott Farquharson
Production designer: Mike Boothby
Supervising editor: Joshua Altman
Music: B.C. Smith, David Vanacore
Casting: Lynne Spillman