The Sundance Channel appears to tackle a serious topic with “Get to Work,” a reality series focusing on what’s described as a “hardcore back-to-work boot camp,” aimed at participants held back by a history of bad choices, habits or attitudes.
Unfortunately, the actual series winds up being at war with itself, caught somewhere between serious documentary and typical reality-TV show. Left in that creative no man’s land, the Aug. 13 premiere simply doesn’t pass the interview.
The series features the STRIVE program, designed to use what amounts to a tough-love approach to help people learn how to find — and hold onto — jobs. Each episode will introduce new participants in the program, who are tested in a variety of ways — starting with showing up on time, and not mouthing off — by the no-nonsense administrators.
Some of these folks appear hopeless, determined to cut corners and get kicked out. One shows up late after a break and leaves shouting obscenities at the instructors.
Still, the music and reality-TV trappings separate this from traditional documentary territory, while the program staff aren’t as colorful as the shouting heads we’ve come to expect from other reality fare. And the format of having a new class of participants every week doesn’t provide much time to get to know or care about what happens with most of the candidates.
Given the economic downturn and lingering unemployment rate, “Get to Work” certainly feels timely. But having the right concept, without the proper execution and follow-through, only goes so far.
Frankly, that sounds like the kind of thing they might tell the candidates in the STRIVE program. Maybe they’ll save that lesson for the reality-TV-producing boot camp.
Produced by Sharp Entertainment. Executive producers, Matt Sharp, Jeff Grogan, Marco Bresaz.