The Best of Oblivious

The Best of Oblivious

The Best of Oblivious attempted to combine the hidden camera prank show with a game show

The Best of Oblivious

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It seems that American television audiences have held a certain fascination for shows that revolve around a hidden camera. From Candid Camera that I enjoyed in my youth to such modern shows as Punk’d people like to see unsuspecting victims caught on camera.

One variation on this popular theme was Oblivious. This series attempted to combine the hidden camera prank show with a game show. The hook was to set up some cameras, and have the host Regan Burns create bizarre and often embarrassing situations for the naïve target. During the scenario Burns would ask five simple questions. After the reveal the person would get $20 for each question correctly answered. Billed as the game show you didn’t know you where on, the series is good for a few good laughs.

My first exposure to Oblivious was due to the unusual work hours I have. Since I am often up overnight I tend to see those shows that are on in the proverbial wee hours. While flicking away from the constant barrage of infomercials I came upon Oblivious. I have to admit; I watched it and even found myself laughing. Perhaps it was reminiscent of watching Candid Camera but the show did have a novel twist to it.

In one segment the victim thought they where applying for work assisting a butler (Burns) in preparing for a big party. The person is put through a ridiculously demanding set of tasks such as the exact folding of napkins while the five questions are snuck in. To add to the strangeness the person is led to believe the butler hates the lady of the house and urinates into the punch. He then witnesses as the punch is offered to the lady, who naturally has some given to the victim. After revealing That Oblivious is a game show the victim is offered up to $500 dollars more if he would take Burns’ place and become the butler for the next victim. About once an episode this swap is arranged and it seems like most people are anxious for the extra cash. To make sure the script is adhered to there is a hidden earpiece in the former victim so Burns can feed him lines and the questions from behind the scene. The new victim gets the normal $20 while the now in on it previous one gets $100 for each correct answer.

The set ups are what makes The Best of Oblivious. There was one where Burns takes on the Robert Duvall character from Apocalypse Now, playing hard core military in a paint ball park. Burns also takes on the persona of a dentist, a singer at Taco Bell and a priest running a bikini car wash. Oh yes, that brings me to the distraction often used in the scenes, a standing cast of beautiful girls more often than not dressed in as little as standards and practices would allow. In some situations one of the girls would bring in an item that it identified by the subject would earn them another $100.

Another one of my favorite situations was where Burns acts as a singer in a Brady Bunch like pop group with a hard core, Mohawk haired drummer trying out for the gig. The juxtaposition was great as the wild rocker tried to fit in with the bland folk in bright green polyester jump suites. The Best of Oblivious could have gone for the same thing week after week but they always tried their best to deliver the unexpected. Watching the looks on the faces of the hapless people is priceless. In one scene a helpful young woman thinks she is working at a photo framing shop. Burns ruined what seems to be an old family portrait in front of her, every attempt at fixing it only making matters worse. The poor girl looks like she was ready to pass out as she watched what she thought was the destruction of priceless heirloom.

Most of the people asked to take on the other side of the prank really seem to get into it. After just experiencing the embarrassment they are very anxious to pass it on to some one else. The ones they show in The Best of Oblivious box set have some great performances by these one time victims. I guess it's the fact that The Best of Oblivious was on in 2001-2002 when the economy was on a down turn didn’t hurt, people could use the money. Since the prizes where never more than a few hundred dollars this was great for the producers of The Best of Oblivious, a reality type show without the million dollar pay-off's.

There were a couple of other regular features cut in between the skits. One was the bonus round where Burns asks as many questions as he can in one minute, each worth the standard $20. Then there was the bit used before each commercial break. Burns would run up to someone just walking on the street, ask a question and pay $20 if it was answered correctly. The person usually had a strange look left on their face but no one ever seems to refuse the twenty!

Even though The Best of Oblivious is a bare bones release Eagle Entertainment did a great job. The full screen video is clear; the Dolby two channel mono set a bit loud but also acceptable. While most will consider The Best of Oblivious just a footnote in syndicated television The Best of Oblivious is funny. The Best of Oblivious is the rare program that the entire family can enjoy together. The hour and forty four minutes will provide laughs and that is more than most high profile network comedies can claim.

Movie Review of The Best of Oblivious by Doug MacLean of

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