Here's a shocker: Even the brainchild behind Fox's raunchy and critically reviled Temptation Island has standards. Executive producer Chris Cowan tells TV Guide Online that when it comes to deplorable reality shows, one program stands head and shoulders above the rest: NBC's modest summer hidden-camera hit Spy TV.
"Spy TV sucks," he seethes. "That show is awful." However, while critics thumbed their noses at the series on moral grounds TV Guide's Matt Roush griped that "Spy TV finds sadistic new spins on hidden-camera high jinks" Cowan takes issue with it on a creative level. "[The producers] don't understand where the joke is. They have such an opportunity; the concepts are so good. [But then] they're ready to pull the joke and they either reveal it too soon or reveal it too flat. They didn't get enough complexity in the joke, they don't know where the laugh is, there's way too much voiceover, they don't trust the material... I just can't stand that show."
Truth be told, Cowan confesses that he's got a personal "ax to grind" with Spy TV: His own Candid Camera update When Hidden Cameras Attack has been collecting dust at Fox for more than two years. "I think they're a little afraid of it," he says of the network's hesitation to air what he calls "a far funnier" show. "And I don't want it out there because now we're going to look derivative to Spy TV, and that makes me really mad.
"Hidden camera is such a great convention and some people do it really well," he continues. "I just don't think [Spy TV] is a real well-made show, quite frankly."
Well, Cowan is far less critical about his popular and equally-as-ridiculed Fox franchise, Temptation Island. Tonight, the second chapter of the troubled-couples series kicks off (9 pm/ET) and the producer admits he's looking forward to another round of Island-bashing from the media. "I'm flattered," he smirks. "That means that it has reached a [high] level of public consciousness."That said, Cowan "completely understands the difference of opinion on this show. [But] I really believe that human beings are a lot tougher than people give them credit for. I believe they're smarter [and] have a greater capacity for understanding and learning and putting things into perspective. I don't think that people should be legislated to what they should watch and what they shouldn't watch; they have the right to change the channel. So, I'm for pushing boundaries within reason."