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Reviewed by Will Harris
he reality show boom of the early ‘00s was so overwhelming on the airwaves that it lent itself very easily to parody, so it was no surprise when some folks decided to mock the genre mercilessly by creating a fake reality show and running some poor schmo – oh, sorry, that should be Schmo – through the wringer by forcing him to endure various highly unlikely tasks in order to receive a cash payout. As it turned out, “The Joe Schmo Show” was actually pretty funny, and to maintain their momentum, the producers quickly whipped up a sequel – quickly dubbed “Joe Schmo 2” – and took its title to heart, this time putting a pair of people through the paces.
Tim Walsh and Ingrid Wiese believed themselves to have been selected as contestants on a dating show, one split evenly between men and women. The various other “contestants” were actually all actors, as were the obsequious host (whose accent and bad British teeth were both decidedly fake) and the guy and gal who had ostensibly come to the show looking for their respective Mr. or Miss Right. Tim, God bless him, instantly comes across as one of the sweetest guys you’d like to meet, and he often played the game with his heart on his sleeve, giving himself to the competition. Ingrid, meanwhile, started off the proceedings with her Cynic-o-scope cranked up to Maximum Skepticism, instantly questioning the oddness and, let’s face it, occasional ridiculousness of the events unfolding around her. As a result, it should come as no surprise that it eventually reaches a point in the show where the producers have to decide, “Are we going to boot her off the show, or are we going to let her in on the gag?”
Oh, you don’t think we’re going to spoil that for you, do you?
There are, of course, many times during the course of the series where you can understand why Ingrid was as skeptical as she was, just as you can’t quite conceive of how Tim manages to go as long as he does without realizing that it’s all a game. The latter is particularly called into question during the moments when the actors accidentally slip up and call each other or themselves by their own names, or, as with the incident that finally led to Ingrid realizing that it was all a game, when they do something that a real contestant never would’ve done. (We won’t spoil that for you, either, but when the moment happens, you won’t be surprised that it’s happened, but you’ll groan nonetheless.) But given the pressure they’re under to perform an immaculate deception, it’s amazing that they give as solid a performance as they do.
Although the half-decade wait for “Joe Schmo 2” to come out on DVD may cause concerns that the effectiveness of the humor has grown a bit long in the tooth, those fears are unfounded. Shockingly, reality shows haven’t gotten significantly more complicated since 2004, which means that, to the untrained eye, this could pass for something that was filmed earlier this year. Indeed, the first thing it brings to mind is, “When is someone going to green-light ‘Joe Schmo 3’? Perhaps that’s what Mill Creek, the budget DVD company that’s released this set, is counting on.
Special Features: None. But that’s standard practice for Mill Creek, so it shouldn’t come as a real shock.