Friday, February 19, 2010
TBG TV: The Michael Vick Project
When/Where: BET -- Tuesdays at 10:00 PM
10-Word Premise: Redemption of the rare Black athlete who breaks the law.
Starring: Michael Vick as the most hated man in white America (save for the infrequent 72-hour periods after Kanye West does something stupid at an awards show); Kijafa Frink as Vick's fiancée (she's also, somehow, one of the show's executive producers and credited with handling the family's finances); The D.O.C. as Vick's mom (most of you won't get the reference...you'll just have to trust me, it's funny) and Marcus Vick as the family's redshirt f***-up.
The Best Thang: It goes without saying that The Michael Vick Project isn't going to change anyone's opinion of the guy, but there's actually a little bit of heart buried beneath the usual reality show self-aggrandizing. Vick kinda-sorta drops his macho veneer long enough to let viewers know that he cried himself to sleep during his first few weeks in federal prison. We don't see the brutha cry on camera, but the rest of his family fills the tears quota quite nicely. In the second episode, Vick shares the story of how he told his grandmother -- who was suffering from advanced Alzheimer's -- that he was leaving for "training camp", instead of prison. She died a few months later (while Vick was still incarcerated) and Vick's recollection is pretty powerful stuff. (Although, listening to his fiancée mispronounce "Alzheimer's" did taint the moment a wee bit...)
The Worst Thang: The first two episodes have been surprisingly even-handed and included comments from Wayne Pacelle (President of the Humane Society) and Major Ted Hull (who oversaw Vick's stay in federal custody). But, at its core, this is still a transparent attempt to resurrect Vick's brand name, as opposed to the man. Vick appears contrite and says all the right (read: remorseful) things, but everyone else keeps using the word "tragic" to describe his downfall. And, instead of Vick and his family attacking the legal system, a series of "man on the street" interviews were included in the second episode to play the "how did Vick get 23 months when so-and-so did worse and got less time?" angle.
The Verdict: I've pretty much abhorred reality shows since their televised infancy, but The Michael Vick Project is morbidly interesting. Vick is essentially auditioning for his next NFL contract with this show, since the handful of plays per game he ran with the Philadelphia Eagles couldn't possibly be enough to convince another GM to give him a chance. Not surprisingly, no one with the NFL is touching this show with a 10-foot pole (no game highlights, etc.), so I'm curious to see how his season with the Eagles is handled.