The Moment: Thursdays at 10pm Eastern on USA
There are numerous archetypes we see in Reality Television: the “larger and/or crazier than life” show, the “dating” show, the “rich people behaving badly” show, and the “lots of people cramped in a small space” show, but one sort of show that often gets overlooked in the reality genre is “live your dreams” show that is best exemplified through MTV’s Made and CBS’s flop The Job. It is from that cloth that USA provides it’s newest show, The Moment.
The Moment follows Kurt Warner, Super Bowl winning quarterback of St. Louis Rams and Arizona Cardinals fame, as he travels around the country giving ordinary Americans a second chance at the dream jobs they were forced to sacrifice to give themselves a better life. Warner himself is no stranger to second chances, as he bounced around Arena League Football and NFL Europe throughout the 90’s before filling in for an injured Trent Green and leading the Rams to a Super Bowl win at Super Bowl XXXIV in his rookie season.
Our sneak preview episode focuses on Bob Capita, a factory chief and charity head who wants to be a sailor and had his dream taken from him for a number of reasons, including the 1980 Olympic Boycott and a disapproving father. Warner surprises Capita with a second chance to enter the world of America’s Cup sailing with the opportunity to skipper a professional boat. During the process, he trains with Hall of Famer and NBC commentator Gary Jobson, who runs him through the wringer in order to bring Bob back to top tier shape. From there the action moves to the East Coast, where he meets his crew including his prospective boss’s consigliere (though he didn’t find that out until a later reveal). The show then concludes with a big fate-determining race and a job interview where Bob’s final fate is determined.
The show itself is serviceable, but tosses out an incredible amount of jargon over the course of the show. That factor, as well as a relative lack of Warner during the show (Bob’s kid gets more screen time than him, and that kid is selfless beyond a human level) give The Moment a vibe as if they are semi-connected documentaries with a common theme than an actual reality show along the lines of anything you would see on Bravo. As a result, it’s fairly safe to say that your interest in a given episode is going to be entirely dependent on your interest in the subject material of the “job hunter”.
One aspect I did particularly like, however, is that The Moment doesn’t really trump up conflict for conflict’s sake. While this makes for a particularly bland show at times, it allows for the show’s rare moments of conflict to have real stakes, whether it’s the effect that a three-thousand mile move will have on their entrenched lifestyle (as you would expect for someone with a business, a family, and their own charity) or a conflict between a skipper and his first mate as to how aggressively to cut the boat when a barge interferes in their race course.
What makes me cringe with this show is the editing. There is nothing more annoying than random blur outs before major cut points. Similarly, the show edits the build up to it’s two major decisions (will they offer the job, and if so will they take the job) by slicing up quotes out of the conversations in a way that comes off like the review snippets you see in a commercial for a Broadway musical (“The only that matters more than winning are the boats themselves….”, “…but we’ll have to say goodbye to our friends…”) while often darting the camera at contrasting reaction faces before letting anyone finish a sentence.
The Final Verdict: The Moment is an interesting show to assess. It’s unfailingly positive, relentlessly heartwarming, and incredibly lacking in conflict, but in spite its’ weaknesses it’s surprisingly watchable. While I have gripes with the editing, which takes the manipulative editing aspect of reality shows and stretches it to almost parody at points, The Moment eschews most of the standard issue reality cliches which I find personally refreshing. The show feels loose enough (especially with Warner backgrounded for much of the show) that it’s hard to recommend it as a series, and easier to recommend as the sort of show you would watch an episode of here or there when the subject matter piques your attention. Overall, I feel that this is the sort of show that requires a wait-and-see outlook to see if it becomes predictable over time.