What is it with the American population's fascination with practical jokes? We love watching other people get surprised, embarrassed, and tricked, especially if it's in front of an audience. So it's not a huge surprise that Candid Camera is coming back to TV. The show originally aired in 1948, and continued for more than 50 years before coming off the air in 2004. But now, with Peter Funt, the son of the shows original creator and host, on board, audiences will get 10 new episodes to debut on TV Land this summer.
“The show is full of joyful laughter that catches you off guard and leaves you in high spirits — exactly the outlook that our brand embodies,” TV Land president Larry W. Jones said of the shows reincarnation. But it was thanks to one avid fan that the show was able to get made. Tag-teamed by Funt and Ben Silverman, the fan, the pair developed the new version of the show. According to Silverman, the show will mainly be “about delivering a fresh show for today’s audiences with great bits. Most of those derivative series were mean and had more of a ‘gotcha’ vibe,” Silverman said, noting that the new Candid Camera will have “more comedic observations, more thoughtfulness."
But how will the television show be different? Certainly the medium has evolved since its inception in 1948, but 2014 should bring a plethora of changes, from the type of pranks executed, to the reaction of those on camera. In the past we've had Punk'd, hosted by Ashton Kutcher as the celebrity version of the hidden camera show. Donald Faison hosted Who Gets the Last Laugh, and Vivica A. Fox is set to host Prank my Mom. NBC had Betty White's Off Their Rockers, another spin on the hidden camera classic.
With photo and video social media platforms like Vine and Instagram, the rules of the game have changed. Anyone can be a "viral" star, and most people, at least of the younger generation, are used to having their lives captured on camera. The "surprise" factor of being filmed is less likely as, well, surprising. And with "selfie" being dubbed the word of the year, and songs like "#Selfie" making top 40 lists, the idea of "normal people" being on camera is being embraced on a level that the century has yet to see. So will Candid Camera be less of a hit?
It could, of course, be more upsetting to those captured on camera. As the decades have past, their has been a growth in the general distrust of the government and the media. Perhaps a reason why the show rejected a live format for the reboot, people may be upset they were filmed without their permission. The charm of having a stranger say, "Smile! You're on candid camera!" might be more creepy than alluring to 2014's audiences and participants.
Nevertheless, let's revisit one of the original Candid Camera moments from 1953, where unsuspecting bowlers get pranked at a bowling alley. Ironically, the concept of this prank is to have all of the female bowlers get strikes, as their male counterparts watch in frustration. Oh 1950s, your sexism and cardigans are ever the same.