Reviewer Janet Walker: Janet is the author of Colour To Die For, first of the Fee Weston Mystery Series. Janet lives in Australia and when she is not writing about P.I. Fee Weston's fight for truth, justice and a livable cash flow, she writes articles for magazines and fund raises for Australia's wildlife carers - heroes of the bush. For more about Janet and Fee visit Janet's WEBSITE
Author : Phil Harvey
Author : Phil Harvey
Reality television – you either like it or loathe it. One thing is certain, while producers are able to find contestants who for a fee, don’t mind looking foolish, performing private acts (removing clothes is just the beginning) or behaving aggressively for a viewing audience of millions, worldwide reality television will be a fixture in primetime programming.
As you’ve probably
guessed; I don’t like reality television but I do like Phil
Harvey’s psychological thriller, Show Time. He gives the usual
reality show format which stars contestants/weirdoes who will do
anything for a brief moment of fame, a new spin. Seven people (four
guys and three gals) sign on to be marooned on an island bordering
Lake Superior for seven months. The reward – $400,000.00 apiece.
Survivor/Big Brother on steroids, the show format has only one rule:
Injury, illness or starvation, doesn’t matter, nobody leaves the
island until the seven months are over.
The show’s seriously nasty producers are counting on sexual tension, conflict (a death or two would be good) and in the long cold winter, behaviour reduced to dog-eat-dog to keep the ratings high and the sponsors happy. Spurred on by the promise of bonuses if the ratings go galactic the contestants settle in. They split into two groups: Ivan (a crazy ex Navy Seal), Rudy (an athletic café-au-lait black man) and Maureen (a redheaded beauty with a penchant for being captured on camera doing it with Rudy) join forces. The other group comprises: Ambrose (a seemingly nice guy with a huge gambling debt/obsession), Cecily (a woman with a weight problem who has walked out on her husband and daughter) and Ashai (a tough fit lesbian with bi-sexual tendencies). The seventh member of the team is Valentin, a young man who suffered a sexually abusive childhood. Unwilling to trust any of the other contestants, Valentin opts to go it alone.
All seven have issues with society, their family or themselves. Bit by bit, the author reveals the background of each contestant and you can’t help thinking that rather than seven months in a reality television series, seven months in therapy would produce a better result for each of them.
The show’s crew have mined the island with hidden microphones, fixed cameras and ‘floating’ cameras in trees to ensure viewers don’t miss a moment of the conflict, sex and struggle for survival. Dialogue, crisp and convincing, the action sequences are really exciting. Phil Harvey has created a story line that keeps you wondering what will happen next and who will be left standing/alive when the timeline of seven months expires.
Ambrose emerges as the
peacemaker/organizer of the group – ahead of the game, he figures
that if they are to earn bonuses from the show’s producers ratings
will have to sky rocket. He convinces the rest that the only way to
survive the harsh winter ahead is to stick together and he comes up
with a plan – give the producers what they want but instead of real
conflict, fake it. In theory the plan looks good but the devil is in
the detail and the group and plan start to unravel.
The suspense level high, it’s not surprising Phil Harvey has had short stories published in fifteen literary magazines. His writing flows seamlessly between the cynical machinations of the show’s producers and the troops/contestants on the ground. He lives in Cabin John, Maryland and is president of DKT International, a nonprofit family planning and AIDS prevention organization.
Show Time is a great book to sit down with for an hour – an hour which could easily turn into two; it’s a fun absorbing read.