Tony Robbins, the multimillionaire "Father of the Coaching Industry," to use his own phrase, has a reality show, "Breakthrough With Tony Robbins," premiering Tuesday on NBC. (The network describes the series as "six one-hour specials.") It is not, except incidentally, an infomercial, Robbins' customary form of televisual expression, but rather a stunt-filled life-makeover show in which Tony — you don't mind if I call him Tony? — helps "families in crisis" work through their problems in colorful ways that look good on TV. And in only 30 days. (It's not reality TV without a deadline, but it is also Tony's usual promise to deliver results fast.)
In the first episode we meet Frank and Kristen. Two years ago, Frank jumped into a pool during their wedding reception and broke his neck; he's a quadriplegic with some use of his arms, though not much of his hands. Kristen feels more like a caretaker than a wife, and Frank feels guilty and depressed. Tony, who considers this "an incredible love story and an extraordinary tragedy all rolled into one," invites them to visit him in Fiji.
He will have them Rewrite Their Story, Confront Their Real Issues, Discover Their Inner Strength and Own Their Breakthrough, which in practical terms they do by opening up to Tony, sky diving, going to a spa (Kristen), playing wheelchair rugby (Frank), rebuilding a truck and driving it fast in the desert (Frank) and getting married again, live onstage at West L.A.'s Wadsworth Theater, surrounded by friends and in front of a roomful of applauding strangers. Naturally, this makes them feel pretty good.