Yesterday I sat down to watch the BBC’s new reality TV show, ’24 Hours In The Past’. The premise follows a dreary pattern you’re likely already familiar with; six near-celebrities are rounded up and put through a bunch of ordeals. They struggle, then admit how fortunate they are to lead the cushy life they do. Audience feel a schadenfreude-based superiority; show gets decent ratings.
So, yes, there is a problem with the format. The focus should, rightly, be on how modern people adapt to historical situations. This is why I still cling to the hope that Rome Sweet Rome (the story of a modern American military force somehow transported back in time) will still be made into a feature film. However, the very act of dropping someone into the situation sets them up to fail.
Perhaps the only positive thing about ’24 Hours…’ is that the contestants were happy to cheat. Knowing that they wouldn’t be able to make the grade, they stole from their ’employers’ and put together crappy work with a veneer of quality.
And this is A Good Thing. I’d like to think that if I was sent back into the past, I would be able to employ some modern ingenuity to get a leg up. However, the reality would probably fall short of that. I don’t actually really know much about how modern technology works, and there’s a good chance I can’t event speak the language of the period I get sent back to.
If I can’t cut corners like that, I’d like to think I’d be able to cheat the system a little and avoid the long-term consequences.