Hydra Executives? Do us a favour…

Charles Spencer, The Daily Telegraph’s theatre critic, wrote a memorable review a few years ago in which he described how he longed to track down the director of a particularly bad play and give him a good kicking. You could feel Spencer’s pain and sense of aesthetic injustice. He longed for retribution.

HydraToday, I’m in a Charles Spencer kind of mood. The urge to smash things up is quite overwhelming. The assertion – propagated by numerous media – that reality TV show Hydra Executives has been a runaway success for the past few months – both in terms of entertainment and TV ratings – bothers me. Pure torture to watch, it is, without any shadow of a doubt, one of the worst TV shows ever made and should be viewed as a major embarrassment for those TV stations that have aired it. All I can say is that, right now, the day when the Middle East sells its first TV show format to the rest of the world seems further away than ever.

Not that Hannah Dodkin (pictured) is complaining. She’s walked away with $500,000 in prize money. Showtime, however, should be concerned. If this is the standard of locally produced content that we can expect from one of the region’s premier pay-TV networks, then we’re in trouble. Have we really made no progress at all in the past four years? Is mimicking TV show formats from the West, and doing them badly, still all that the Middle East’s TV industry is capable of?

Hydra Executives is even more painful when you consider that pay-TV networks should be leading by example. HBO – the home of The Wire and The Sopranos – has consistently provided world-class entertainment on the back of subscription money. Free from the need to raise funds through advertising, it has invested in some of the finest entertainment ever created. Is it not fair, therefore, to ask why a similar scenario could not be repeated in the Middle East?

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7 Responses to Hydra Executives? Do us a favour…

  1. Mai says:

    I watched it for the first time last week. I’ve never seen a worse TV production in my life. Content, quality, sequence – just awful.

    And also, in my personal opinion, the concept of national teams is offensive. UK vs US? India vs Pakistan? What’s next? Lebanon vs Syria?

  2. anubis says:

    originality vs copycat

  3. Arm chair critic says:

    Have you seen the episode where they had an Indian and Pakistani team pitted against each other?
    You think the show couldn’t get any worse but it did! Un fricken believeable. The ultimate in car crash TV.
    And I love the way the producer managed to create a role for himself. If the Doc is trying to be the Trumpy of the UAE I guess the producer sees himself as Simon Cowell

  4. Cliff says:

    You are all so right, it was amongst the worse stuff I’ve seen. I hope that one day we can produce something good here, but its an uphill fight!

    (Ex-BBC Series Producer/Director)

  5. rains says:

    Never have i witnessed such shows in my life. Man, the apprentice is way better or far better than this. If you are firing somebody, you should give some valid reasons. comeon, i think at the end of the show, somebody is going to be Doc’s partner and the person who is going to win should be capable and smart rather being incapable and idiot.
    the way Doc gives out the reason for firing is “i dont like him”, “she is a entertainer”, “she is a loner, she works alone”, “she is a disaster, she was bringing the team down”.
    and worst part is having the team fight against the other team, calling names, etc. If i am the manager, i wouldnt want anybody in my team, cause there is no proffesionalism. To think of it we work with different nationalities and we have to coordinate and cooperate with them to finish a successful task at the end of the day. I guess the producer or the director doesnt know the meaning of this.
    Well, i like the show, the comedy and moreover the harsh reality of the people who are part of the show.

  6. Steve here, contestant and runner up on the show… just a small correction… no one actually won any money… the $1,000,000 was just media hype. Sulaiman Al Fahim never partnered with Richard, and Hannah never received a cent.

    For me it was very disappointing to spend a year of my life devoted to bringing the region an original and visionary creative concept ‘The Dance Museum’, an entertainment and cultural centre for global dance and music, and then to be treated with such disrespect in the final presentation by both the producer (off camera) and Sulaiman Al Fahim (on camera). OK I know that contestants on Reality TV set themselves up for a fall, but I genuinely thought that this programme was going to be different, and it was originally sold to us from that perspective which is why I agreed to participate. We were told that it was an opportunity for creatives and entrepreneurs to bring visionary concepts to the Middle East and realise their vision.

    At present Abu Dhabi is involved in spending billions of dollars buying global cultural brands ‘off the shelf’ (The Louvre, The Guggenheim) and the show failed to showcase the true talents and creativity of the contestants who came with visionary ideas and wished to bring a spark of originality to the region.

    The reality of reality TV hit home when one of the producers screamed at the UK team at the top of his voice, when he wasn’t getting the drama he was hoping for in the campfire scene… “We’re not interested in your f**king business plans, this is Reality TV”. Unfortunately they cut me screaming back at camera at a later campfire scene: “This is bullshit, this is complete and utter bullshit”… but hopefully the out takes will emerge one day and be posted on youtube…

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