Fox announces 'Family Time' "family makeover" show... 'Trading Spouses' Biggins family to appear in premiere
By Wade Paulsen, 08/04/2004
Is it the ultimate capstone in Fox's string of concept and execution thefts? Or is it a new idea for a show with some repackaging and borrowing to make it seem more familiar? Those are the questions surrounding Fox's new reality show Family Time, a show focusing on the "ultimate family makeover."
At the center of the show is host Jay McGraw, son of the noted self-help guru Dr. Phil McGraw (aka "Dr. Phil") and a successful self-help author in his own right, with a focus on teens. With Jay's help, the Family Time crew will try to "overcome any obstacle, get families back on track and help them forge ahead toward their goals," as Fox describes the show.
Therefore, the basic idea of the show is novel: making over the family by improving the family dynamics in a two-week intensive effort. Right?
Not so fast. Also included in the show will be a panel of makeover specialists, including a stylist, an interior designer, a construction crew, and even experts to re-invent cars and pets, to "make over" physical appearance as well as intrafamily relationships. Thus, this aspect of the show -- which appears to be tacked on to the basic concept in an effort to make the show more appealing than most self-help shows -- is derivative of everything from Queer Eye for the Straight Guy to Extreme Makeover and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.
So how derivative will the show turn out to be? Fox reality chief Mike Darnell, who appears to revel in his "Jesse James" outlaw image resulting from all of his thefts, told Daily Variety that Family Time would be like taking "every makeover show you've ever seen and roll it into one." "We'll completely do their house over. If someone in the family needs to go on a diet, we'll help them with that. And if one of the kids is bullied in school, he'll get to learn karate. We're trying to do everything. There might even be a little plastic surgery -- some Botox, a nose job," added Darnell.
Without seeing the show, we tend to disagree a bit with Darnell's "roll up" description. While there will certainly be some of the trappings of other makeover shows included in Family Time, we expect that, unless he's completely changing his career focus, any show hosted by Jay McGraw will focus more upon resolving longstanding intrafamily issues that leave everyone less satisfied than they could be (though we're sure that everything about the show could change overnight if Mike Darnell decides that he's less satisfied than he could be after seeing the first efforts).
According to Daily Variety, the first show will feature the working-class Biggins family -- one of the families involved in the premiere of Fox's Trading Spouses: Meet Your New Mommy ... perhaps to work on family issues exposed by their participation in the prior show.
Family Time is produced by Rocket Science Laboratories, which has almost turned into a captive Fox reality house (Trading Spouses: Meet Your New Mommy, Joe Millionaire, My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiancé, Temptation Island). Jean-Michel Michenaud, Chris Cowan and Ray Giuliani serve as executive producers. Janelle Fiorito serves as co-executive producer.