Directed by Dana Klein et al
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Running Time: 210 minutes
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo English
MSRP: $ 19.99
Release Date: April 15, 2008
Review Date: April 5, 2008
Competition reality shows reached a new plateau of popularity with the introduction of CBS’ Survivor. Since that monster hit burst onto the scene, every network and netlet have bent over backwards to come up with the “next big thing.” Of course, many shows have turned out to be mere copycats of shows which preceded them. BET’s College Hill Interns owes more than a passing debt of gratitude to NBC’s The Apprentice in its contest pitting college-age young people in competitive exercises which will give them a heads-up in dealing with real-world businesses once they’re on their own planning their careers.
The producers have typically chosen a cross section of personalities to inhabit the series, ten college students or recent college graduates who vie for the ultimate recognition: Ivy (the virgin), Khasheef (the partier), Jenna (the aggressive bully), Kathy (the lesbian), Letia (the quiet one), Lonnie (the entrepreneur), Maurice (the playboy), Spencer (the youngest and most naïve), Tatiana (the petite, sensitive one), and Marc (the jock go-getter). Living in the same quarters, it’s obvious that there will be conflicts with egos and romances that bloom (shades of Big Brother). In fact, College Hill Interns doesn’t really forge much of a personality of its own; it’s too busy mimicking traits of other, more established reality shows. (The one thing it doesn’t do is have individuals voting one another off the show; for that, there is a Donald Trump-like advisor, Dr. Ian Smith, who decides who stays, who goes, and who wins.)
Truthfully, the tasks the interns are asked to perform are not exactly brain busters: they must participate in some team cooperation exercises at a gym, they must organize and run a fund raiser for HIV awareness in the Chicago area, and they must work for a day at a Habitat for Humanity project (where Tatiana has a breakdown when she’s asked to rake dirt in the front yard so grass seed can be planted, and which Lonnie doesn‘t attend because he‘s sleeping off a hangover from the previous night of hard partying.) Actually, the show focuses as much on their nights of partying at clubs as it does on their work projects maybe adding more entertainment value to the show but also adding to a decided lower responsibility quotient and lesser expectations these participants seem to possess for themselves.
The final two episodes of the series cram two work-intensive projects for the remaining contestants. In one, the teams must design and execute a print ad for the Toyota Yaris. In the second assignment, the teams must design flyers, make a radio commercial, and then promote a McDonalds-sponsored live concert in Chicago. The show would have been much more interesting and involving if more work-intensive projects such as these had been included in the first two-thirds of the series episodes.
The show is filmed in 1.33:1 and presented thus on this DVD. With no anamorphic enhancement, the images are plagued with all manner of visual artifacts: jaggies, stair-stepping, line twitter, aliasing, and pixilation. Color is at acceptable levels, and close-up interviews are sharp though when the group heads out into the night, images frequently become grainy and blurred. Each episode is divided into 4 chapters except for the final extended episode which contains 5 chapters.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo soundtrack is feebly stereophonic. Almost everything goes through the center channel, and the sound is adequate to convey what’s going on (though much profanity is bleeped during the show; this is not the uncensored version). Obviously made on a small budget, the program has a strictly no-frills sound design.
A Cast Audition Reel is 9 minutes of interviews with the ten contestants in which they describe why they should be chosen to be on the show. These interviews reveal exactly what traits the producers found present in each of these students to select them for the program.
The Reject Reel is 2½ minutes of videotaped footage submitted by other aspiring contestants for the show who weren’t selected. In most cases, the submissions reveal that the person was more interested in being on television than in furthering his business career.
“A Day with Soulja Boy” finds intern Jenna spending two days as the personal assistant/gofer for hip-hop star Soulja Boy who’s making a personal appearance in Atlanta prior to the BET Hip-Hop Awards. Jenna spends the two days doing various menial jobs for the singer: taking the meal orders for him and his crew, selecting clothes for him so he doesn’t have to waste time shopping, preparing a tray of snacks in his personal trailer prior to his personal appearances, and working as an audience warm-up barker prior to one of his personal appearances. This 4:3 segment runs 13 minutes.
There is a preview trailer for How She Move.
Not one of the great contributions to television broadcasting, College Hill Interns might entertain those who can’t get enough of competitive reality shows which focus more on personalities than on achievements. I found it fairly forgettable.