San Francisco is the chosen locale for the third season of MTV’s “Real World, ” a supposedly spontaneous documentation of the lives of seven strangers thrown together for the purpose of creating riveting and entertaining television.
This first episode scores on most accounts, with the lion’s share of screen time designed to give viewers a glimpse into the backgrounds of the participants.
But as show progresses, the first-meeting euphoria of the racially and morally diverse contingent gives way to the ubiquitous whining and bickering.
Cory, a San Diego native who appears to view the world through rose-colored Ray Bans, exhibits the optimism of a cheerleader. When she hooks up with Pedro, a refugee from Cuba residing in Miami, the two strike a chord that signals an impending amorous relationship.
But the embers are quickly extinguished when Pedro reveals that he is HIV-positive and works as an AIDS educator — almost a production contrivance given the series’ new location.
Rachel, a card-carrying Republican, hooks up with Judd, a cartoonist wannabe, who professes an immediate attraction to the Shannen Doherty look- and act-alike. Pam, an arrogant medical student with academic honors, enters the mix but is overshadowed by Puck, a bicycle messenger who was just bailed out of jail. Puck, the most interesting of the seven, is also the most annoying.
Brought in to fulfill the series’ musician/recording artist hopeful category is Mohammed, who fronts a local reggae-rap band.
Taut editing keeps the action crisp and the work of production designer Josh Koral and art director Darin Hunt team to make show visually upbeat.
While interesting television as the cast’s background’s unfolds, the channel seems intent on regurgitating a successful formula. As a result, show appears destined to cover familiar ground with initially unfamiliar faces.
But will viewers be anxious to watch a third year of lengthy introspection and character assassination? That is only one of the show’s many unanswered questions.