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It's Too Soon for 'Real World'

February 17, 1996|DAVID KRONKE

Most TV series hold off their self-congratulatory retrospectives for a decade, or two, or three, after they go off the air. Looking back at "The Dick Van Dyke Show" or "Your Show of Shows" or "The Ed Sullivan Show" after its principles have passed their peak lends a greater air of nostalgia and importance to the enterprise that simply isn't merited sooner.

At MTV, though, where Flock of Seagulls is as much a golden oldie as Chuck Berry, attention spans are so short that a year legitimately seems like a decade. So a special reuniting the sundry casts of the pseudo-documentary series "The Real World"--casts that have not been apart for more than a couple of years--might seem a good idea.

To many, "The Real World" was a concept jaw-dropping in its simplicity: Of course, if you turn a camera on anyone--let alone a demographically diverse group of attractive young people--they're going to perform for it, and if you leave it on long enough, something interesting might happen. Shoehorning dissimilar types into a cramped living area was like forcing a quart of vodka down someone's throat and then putting them behind the wheel: Gee, what's going to happen?

On that level, the reunion show works the old "Real World" magic, but only barely. The New York and L.A. casts have each duly patched up past wounds, stripping this special of much of its potential drama. So by the first commercial break, the producers are actually trying to manufacture a grudge match between the casts from the different cities.

Romances and careers are examined, but in that trademark MTV fashion where everything's a little fuzzy and nothing is explained to any satisfaction. The one resonant segment remembers Pedro Zamora, the San Francisco cast member who lived with and died of complications of AIDS in this most public forum.

Perhaps it's because nearly everyone has learned to modulate their responses that this special lacks much in the way of interest. The "Real World" casts have gotten on with their lives; perhaps we and MTV should follow.

* "The Real World Reunion" airs today at 1 p.m., 4:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. and on Sunday at 2 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. on MTV.

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