Last night, NBC debuted yet another new series with a documentary style structure. The network is no stranger to the format, but this show is apparently more confusing for viewers than, say, The Office and Parks and Recreation. The difference is that this show, Siberia, is not a comedy. It’s a fictional show that plays like a reality game show. Any blurbs calling it “Survivor meets Lost” are unnecessary praise because that is literally what is intended. The premise is a more anarchic take on a Survivor-type show, dropping contestants in the middle of the notorious Russian region, while the pilot is nearly a play-by-play of a crash-less version of the Lost pilot, complete with a male version of Shannon (he even sunbathes while everyone else works together as a team) and an unidentified creature in the woods, a la “The Smoke Monster.” By the time Siberia starts to get deadly, the audience should be fully aware that this is not a real reality show. That is if they aren’t already keen enough to see the impossible camerawork (common to other doc-style fiction series) or haven’t bothered looking up the program on IMDb or NBC’s website. But why would they go looking if they believed it to be just another nonfiction show? There’s not much that indicates otherwise in the opening credits (no writers are listed and the cast is listed by first name only) and while the network isn’t necessarily trying to dupe viewers, its marketing of the show […]


Happy People

After spending time the jungle to film Fitzcarraldo, legendary director Werner Herzog came away from the experience with the unique perspective that instead of being a landscape that represents life and beauty, the lushness of the jungle was an obscene, vile place that exhibited interconnection only in its collective murder. Given his apparent distaste for the jungle’s denseness, which leads to the screeching of the birds and the screaming of the trees, maybe he would have a better time traveling in the frozen vastness of Siberia? Seeing as that’s where he’s gone to film his latest documentary, Happy People: A Year in the Taiga, we’re likely to get our chance to find out. We’re going to have to wait until the film is actually released to get his full impressions of this gigantic expanse of wilderness, however, because while the film’s new trailer does open with the soothing sounds of that patented Herzog voice over narration, he mostly just introduces the setting and then let’s the gorgeous landscape photography he and co-director Dmitry Vasyukov have captured do the rest of the talking.

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published: 01.28.2015
published: 01.28.2015
published: 01.28.2015
published: 01.27.2015

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