The Benefactor

ABC (ended 2004)


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The Benefactor Fan Reviews (2)

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  • Apprentice rip off that flopped.

    I was reviewing another awful series The Loop and saw that Mark Cuban was in the finale then I saw that he did this show.

    I vaguely remember it and saw probably 15 minutes of it - there was this big empty warehouse and there were phones. Well, thats about all I remember. Mark Cuban is as much of a pompous windbag as Donald Trump is. Though it was funny when they traded insults - Trump won that battle. Both of them are great businessmen but have bloated out of control egos.

    Why did this show fail? It was a bland copy of Trumps show that failed miserably. At least this show was good for one thing - helping me get to LEVEL 20!

    BTW, is Mark really Cuban? Maybe Fidel Castro could have his own show where he picks his successor.
  • The first of this years crop of reality shows "inspired" by The Apprentice proves that it's not as easy to copy Mark Burnett's formula as some people think.

    I was hoping that this was going to be something other than an Apprentice rip-off. Actually in a way it is. It's a rip-off of Andy Dick's Apprentice spoof The Assistant. If you've seen Andy Dick's show you know that it's sort of poking fun of The Apprentice by spoofing the hit show's somewhat goofy challenges and (not really) trademark catch phrases. ABC's The Benefactor would be better if it took Andy Dick's comedic take on the genre rather than shooting for serious and coming off as unintentionally funny.

    The basic premise of The Benefactor is that Mark "The Benefactor" Cuban – self-made billionaire and slightly eccentric dude – will host a contest where 16 regular people attempt to prove that they deserve to get a million dollars of his money. There's no indication of exactly what the contest will entail or exactly how he'll be choosing. In the debut episode people are eliminated due to an offhanded comment, an interview and losing a game of Jenga. That's right. Stack wooden blocks for a million dollars. Ironically, the first episode of this season's The Apprentice had the contestants designing a new toy. The Benefactor has them playing with toys.

    There seems to be a feeling among the people who develop new TV shows that reality shows are somehow easier to create than scripted shows. It seems like you just take a bunch of people and throw them into artificial situations and see how they do. Unfortunately creating a good reality show is actually harder than creating a scripted show. It's something that only Mark Burnett seems to understand which is perhaps why he's far more successful at it than those who try to copy his "formula" on another show. Since a reality show has no writers (actually most have writers but they don't script all of what the people say) it's vital that the casting is perfect and the production impeccable.

    In a show like The Apprentice you have The Donald and a cast of hopefuls that provide just the right amounts of conflict and odd behavior. In The Benefactor you have a bunch of hopefuls that mostly seem pretty dull and Mark Cuban who mostly comes off as a little creepy. Cuban is clearly not terribly comfortable in front of the camera and watching the contestants on hidden cameras and his "confessional" interviews make him seem a bit odd. Trump actually is equally uncomfortable in front of the camera which is why his appearances are scripted and well edited. You can't say the same for Cuban here. One of the contestants remarks about how Cuban is "messing with their minds" and it's true but without Andy Dick's trademark wackiness it just comes off as wrong.

    It's impossible to avoid comparing The Benefactor with The Apprentice since it was clearly spawned from Trump's hit. The Benefactor even carries through with Donald's bits of business wisdom that give a good indication of what will provide the deciding factor in the upcoming ouster. Cuban here provides tips about first impressions, living up to expectations and staying cool under pressure. Keep those in mind and if you watch carefully you can probably guess who's going to get the axe.

    Even without The Apprentice comparisons it's hard to see how The Benefactor will be a hit. Its basic premise is too wishy-washy. Without a good indication of what criteria will be used to judged people it seems destined to disintegrate into "what would you do for a million dollars". Perhaps the cast can rise above that. Perhaps Cuban can get what made his successful across as he becomes more comfortable on screen. Somehow I don't count on it.

    The Benefactor premiers on ABC on September 13 at 8pm.