Just the other day, Judge Victor Valdivia had a combination orphanage/hospice/nursing home torn down and used the proceeds to buy himself a gold-plated Jet Ski. Where's his reality show?
Bobby G: Adventure Capitalist: Season One, the new reality series from the HD cable channel Mojo, chronicles the life and exploits of a wealthy entrepreneur and his cronies. Sorry to say, those seeking cheap (or even expensive) capitalist thrills will find much of this series rather flaccid.
Facts of the Case
Bobby Genovese, owner of BG Capital, is one of Canada's premier venture capitalists. Marco Markin is CEO of his company, and Brent Lokash, Bobby's corporate attorney, has been installed as the new president and CEO of Clearly Canadian, the struggling bottled water company that's one of Bobby's corporate holdings. Here are the eight episodes that are included on this DVD:
• "Dead in the Water": Bobby and Marco consider investing in a business that's building an underwater memorial reef. Brent takes over the Clearly Canadian bottled water company.
• "The Big Freeze": The Atlantis Memorial Reef is turning into a financial disaster. Brent is also running into problems at Clearly Canadian, in particular when he attempts to deal with other bottled water companies.
• "Charades": Brent's new idea for Clearly Canadian: powdered drinks. Bobby's attempt to buy a jet airplane is stymied by the Patriot Act.
• "Faith, Hope & Charity": Bobby looks at buying a house in the Bahamas. Brent is hanging on by a thread at Clearly Canadian.
• "Heat": Bobby and Brent visit one of Bobby's charity projects in Nicaragua and sit for an interview together for a magazine.
• "Winner Takes All": Brent begins a presentation for Wall Street investors. Bobby plays polo.
• "Games People Play": Brent hires his new president, but his new powdered drink strategy is shaping up badly.
• "Smoke on the Water": At his annual conference, Bobby makes a decision regarding both the Atlantis project and Brent's future at Clearly Canadian.
The fundamental disappointment of Bobby G: Adventure Capitalist: Season One is that, judging by what the show chooses to reveal, Bobby G himself does not have a particularly compelling personality. He's charming, boisterous, and smart, and more often than not comes across as a big boy who likes his toys. Considering he is such a tycoon, however, the series seems to go out of its way to depict him as devoid of arrogance, selfishness, or greed. There's no question that Bobby must have a killer instinct for business; how else could he have accumulated all of the wealth that this series so assiduously shows off? Viewers, however, never actually get to see it. Given that most of the drama surrounding him is so routinely muted, Bobby G: Adventure Capitalist doesn't exactly make for gripping television.
Indeed, despite what the theme song promises, we rarely get to see Bobby in his element. Do we actually get to see Bobby G making deals? Not often enough. The show is divided between Bobby working and Bobby playing, and the latter isn't nearly as interesting as the former. Bobby plays polo. Bobby drools over a big fancy boat, and an even bigger fancier plane. Bobby skis, snowmobiles, and plays charades with his billionaire buddies. Really, who cares? Bobby, it appears, wants to present himself as just a rich guy with nice playthings instead of the tough businessman that he presumably has to be. One promising sequence in particular could have really displayed Bobby's negotiating style. In "The Big Freeze," the Atlantis project is losing money and Bobby and Marco meet with its managers to discuss pulling the plug. However, the cameras are barred from actually attending this meeting, and all we get later are Bobby's euphemistic descriptions of what was said. At that point, it becomes obvious that Bobby is just too image-conscious to really reveal what goes into making his business work.
As a result, the genuinely entertaining moments of the series are only sporadic. In "Heat," Bobby and Brent examine a freshwater well that Bobby helped finance for a poor village in Nicaragua. Naturally, Bobby and Brent mouth the requisite platitudes about the poverty and courage of its denizens. Then they note, with no irony whatsoever, that the village would be a perfect place to sell Clearly Canadian to a whole new untapped market. That's the kind of glibly cynical capitalism that viewers were undoubtedly expecting to see. The series also picks up in "The Big Freeze" when Brent meets the senior VP of a competing energy drink company who seems hell-bent on embodying every gross stereotype of young hotshot executives all by himself. He sums up his management style with one eloquent statement: "I always say one thing about our spokesmodels: They can be super-beautiful, but they've gotta have big breasts!" Yes, he's a stitch, and the show could have used more of him.
The series isn't even thorough in revealing the little that it does show. For instance, it's not until "Heat," the season's fifth episode, that Marco actually explains what a venture capitalist does. Nor do we ever get an explanation of just how Bobby actually made his fortune in the first place. He mentions at one point that he was raised by a single mother, but there are no clues whatsoever to what his background is, how he discovered his talent for business or how he got started. There are also several storylines dropped or abandoned. In "Faith, Hope & Charity," much of Bobby's time in the Bahamas is taken up with acquiring and restoring a decrepit squash club. How this turns out is a mystery, as nothing more of this is said in further episodes. For a reality series to be so sloppy in its storytelling is simply inexcusable.
At least the anamorphic widescreen and stereo sound mix are both pristine, as could be expected from a show that airs on an HD network. Unfortunately, there are no extras, not even to fill in the holes left in the series.
There's certainly nothing wrong with cutthroat capitalism. After all, mercilessly eviscerating someone else's livelihood and leaving them destitute and bleeding on the highway is what makes America (or, in Bobby's case, Canada) great. If you're going to make a reality series about a self-proclaimed winner, it might actually be a good idea to show him winning every once in a while. Endless shots of Bobby G with his Jet Ski and powerboat are not all that interesting, especially compared to his much-touted but rarely seen business acumen. Bobby G: Adventure Capitalist: Season One is an agreeable time-filler, and it might be worthwhile to catch a few episodes on TV or on the web. However, unless Bobby himself frequently drops by your house and rummages through your DVD collection, there's not much reason to own this disc.
Guilty of not revealing as much as it promises.
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