The Hero should have worked as a summer reality series, but it turned into a modern Queen for a Day. Patty, whose default setting was “sobbing,” became that queen.
The elements were there for The Hero to work. The Rock was a producer, the host and the mentor. The challenges were interesting enough, and the Panama setting added some exoticism normally reserved for Survivor or The Amazing Race. Also, the non-elimination format during the first half of the season allowed for drama to build and for the audience to learn who was who.
Despite these built-in elements, The Hero had some fundamental flaws. First, the winner would be determined by a public vote, which means that the least objectionable person would win. Have we learned nothing from the first season of Big Brother? The players knew this would be the case, which meant that almost any time a temptation to take money was offered, most of the players would refuse. Keep in mind that there is no prize money for second place, so if everyone refused every temptation until the finale, only the ultimate winner would receive any cash. Only three people took money during the show (spoiler: they were the only interesting people).
Patty made a point of not accepting any temptations in an effort to be the martyriest martyr who ever martyred. This created a mythology within the show that a hero is someone who refuses to be compensated for his or her daring-do ever. This rings hollow, particularly since none of the contestants do anything particularly heroic: no babies are saved from burning buildings, no damsels are rescued from train tracks, all Patty did was confront a fear of heights in exchange for hugs from the Rock. Granted, those hugs are worth more than the half-million dollars she won for volunteering to stand in a school bus filled with tear gas, but I hope you see my point.
Frankly, the only reason Patty won was because Charles, fellow martyr extraordinaire, basically asked everyone to vote him out in the final elimination because the show was his journey to discover himself. I mean, good for him, I guess, but none of these people know how to play a game show. Mercifully, this show will not be back as The Rock and TNT have decided to focus on other projects together. Patty’s probably crying about that, but I’m not.