ABC is dedicating five hours a week to the concept of personal revolution with its new show called -- uh -- The Revolution. The show premiered last week in the time slot where One Life to Live aired before cancellation. OLTL fans are probably not going to find a lot of soapy drama on The Revolution but they will find plenty of feel-good, commonsense solutions to style (Tim Gunn), home/lifestyle (Ty Pennington), health (Dr. Jennifer Ashton), mental health (Dr. Tiffanie Davis Henry) and fitness (Harley Pasternak).
Each week one "Hero of the Week" is chosen, a person who the show will follow through a five-month transformation of weight loss and lifestyle makeover. One episode will mark a 30-day period, so you will meet each week's hero on Monday and follow his or her progress daily as they complete a monthly weigh-in and meet personal goals. The show premiered last week with a Hero of the Week two-fer: the Harris sisters, Cherrell and Jamilla. We sat down to watch the first week of The Revolution and see if Tim Gunn can carry an entire show on the network that brought us The Chew.[jump]
In Episode One, the show opens and our team of hosts assures us that this episode is all about YOU, YOU, YOU, YOU, YOU. Okay, Host Team -- in a stunning change of pace, I'm going to focus on myself for once. It seems kind of un-American to focus on myself, but I'll give selfish a try. Ty Pennington is loud even without his bullhorn. He says "finally" we can have an hour to focus on just ourselves. Dr. Jennifer Ashton is wearing a white lab coat -- so we are sure which one is the medical doctor? Why isn't Ty wearing a hardhat? Why isn't Tim sporting a measuring tape around his neck? It seems a little Village People to me.
There is a segment called Timtervention. I'm officially over word mash-ups. Tim makes over women with help from Macy's. The main point: play up your best feature. We turn to Harley, who teaches us tap squats, and then Dr. Jen recommends we take vitamin D to fight cancer, non-medical doctor advises cleaning out your "people clutter." Ty wants us to embrace color to lift our spirits. The initial plan was to recap each segment, but this is lame. Household solutions with items you have handy, repurposing clothes you already have, blah blah blah. This show is a lot of retread -- the ongoing reinvention/intervention is the only thing the show has going.
The producers chose well -- sisters Jamilla and Cherrell Harris are adorable, friendly and successful in their professional lives. They are a little co-dependent, spending almost all of their time together, but the show addresses that and even makes them live apart for a week during the transformation phase. Here is a quick breakdown of their progress by episode/month:
• Episode One: In the first 30 days, the sisters have lost a combined 34 pounds. Tim does a segment with them in which they pick out a "goal outfit." Interesting! Longtime Gunn fans know that he has always advocated dressing the body you have, not the body you want, so this is a show trick, not a Tim Gunn trick.
• Episode 2: At the 60-day check-in, Ty makes over the sisters' living space to give their environment a makeover to match their new, active lifestyle. He removes a couch, puts in two chairs, and paints a tree on the wall; pictures of the sisters are affixed to the tree like leaves. The sisters have lost 47 combined pounds.
• Episodes 3 & 4: I cheated and watched video excerpts online. I'm sorry, I have a job. And this show is terrible. Other than the Harris sisters, the rest of the segments are rehashed tips you can pick up in any fitness or lifestyle magazine. (Repurpose items in your closet to freshen up your wardrobe! Wear natural fibers! Sweat more, walk more!) At the 90-day weigh-in Jamilla has lost 30 pounds, and Cherrell 35 pounds. Harley Pasternak does the Arsenio Hall arm pump when they tally the combined 65 pound weight loss. OMG. At the 120-day weigh Jamilla lost 38 lbs., and Cherrell has lost 41 pounds and she has also dropped to under 200 lbs. This is an exciting moment, and I resolve to watch Friday's show. Also, do not miss this clip of the hosts walking on treadmills talking about the importance of working up a sweat. Tim Gunn is walking at a pace of about 1.0 in a suit and dress shoes. I freaking love him.
• Episode 5: After 150 days of training with Harley, and coaching from the rest of the panel, it's time for THE BIG REVEAL IN GOAL OUTFITS! They look amazing! I'm teary! Goal outfits look gorgeous! Tim Gunn is crying! The final weigh-in: 57 pounds lost for Charrell and 52 pounds lost for Jamilla. They look beautiful in their goal outfits, and the show actually does a follow-up segment in which they discuss setbacks and struggles, as well as goals for the future.
Verdict: If you can devote five hours a week to this show, God bless ya. I might tune in on Fridays to check the final result, since they show enough before-and-afters on day five for viewers to get the gist. Unfortunately there is a little too much filler to justify a daily Tim Gunn fix, even for a hardcore Gunn fan like me.