Michael Vick is still behind the bars of Leavenworth federal prison, serving a sentence for illegal dogfighting, but already the former NFL star is making plans for when he once again walks the planet as a free man. According to reports, these plans include a reality show, whose purpose will be to document Vick’s efforts to “make amends for his past.” The show is set to begin shooting on July 20, the day Vick is released from prison. Where it will go from there is anybody’s guess.
Of course, cynics will point out that Vick probably has an ulterior motive for signing on to this reality show: he is bankrupt. Indeed, reports say Vick will receive up to $600,000 for appearing on the show, a far cry from the millions he made as an NFL quarterback, but still, not a bad chunk of change. And he’ll need the work too, since playing in the NFL again right away will not be a realistic possibility. Even after he’s paid his debt to society, Vick will have punishment pending from Roger Goodell, the NFL’s judge, jury and executioner. Most expect a one year suspension at least for Vick, who, by the time he’s done serving said suspension, will have been out of the league three entire seasons. And even then, there’s no guarantee a team will want him and all the backlash that would surely follow.
It’s easy to see why Vick is so eager to line up opportunities like a reality show: there just isn’t a whole lot else for him to do, becoming a dog trainer or a spokesman for PETA being quite out of the question. That being said, I have to wonder how much reality show material there could really be in Michael Vick getting out of jail and setting about rehabbing his image. How many times can you film a guy saying he’s sorry, claiming he’s grown as a person, and promising not to be such a dog-killing f**kstick in the future? I’m thinking that, after about two or three episodes of this, it’s going to get rather tedious. Then, as with all reality shows, the producers are going to have to start getting creative, if not downright desperate. They’re going to have to find situations to place Michael in that not only point up his new image as a guy who doesn’t murder dogs, but keep the audience from nodding off as if they were watching a rerun of Grey’s Anatomy.
The first move is pretty obvious: you send Michael on a trip to wherever his former fighting dogs are being held, and have a tearful reunion. You have Michael speak to each dog individually, tell the dog how bad he feels for making him fight, and for electrocuting his friends, and whatever other nasty-ass shit he did. I figure that ought to eat up two very special episodes at least. But then what? Have Michael go to a kennel and adopt an orphaned dog? That could provide some suspense (Will he fry the dog’s testicles with a car battery or won’t he? Find out next week.) but it could also easily descend into mawkishness. Man-and-his-dog stories generally do tend toward the maudlin and uncomfortable. Especially if there’s any kind of touching musical accompaniment, or if the dog gets sick and the man has to worry about losing his tail-wagging, non-other-dog-mauling pal.
Probably, it would be best to limit Vick’s interaction with pooches entirely, lest all those unfortunate associations be emphasized to the detriment of Vick’s efforts at “making amends.” The better move might be a kind of Celebrity Rehab schtick, putting Vick in a retreat with some other famous and quasi-famous folks who’ve completely messed up their lives via cruelty, violence or other nefarious deeds. Sadly, most of the best such celebs, like Phil Spector and O.J. Simpson, are either in jail or will be soon, so the producers will have to settle for a bunch of second-tier notorious personages: people like Paris Hilton, someone dog-lovers despise almost as much as Vick; and Michael Richards who hasn’t done anything to animals as far as I know but is still in career gulag for all those horrible racist remarks he made (built-in tension with Vick and any other minority cast-members, plus you get all those Seinfeld fans hoping he’ll do some of his old Kramer routines). And of course David Hasselhoff will have to be worked in one way or another, and Danny Bonaduce, and any former Nazi death-camp guards that haven’t been hauled in by the Jews yet; oh, and Patty Hearst, natch. And it would be super-cool if someone could scare up a few of Barack Obama‘s ex-’60s-radical pals who might still be walking around, with brains not entirely fried by LSD-use and uncontrolled anger.
The more I think on it, the more great possibilities leap into my mind for Vick and his show. Like a talent contest. We’ve seen Michael Vick the football player and Michael Vick the dog-shocking criminal bastard…but we’ve yet to experience Michael Vick the tapdancer. Or, maybe there’s some dream Michael’s always had, something you could help him fulfill. Michael Vick the firefighter (just keep him away from the cute spotted firehouse dog, unless you want a traumatized, half-dead Dalmatian on your hands). Michael Vick the cheerleader. Michael Vick the motorcycle daredevil. Or another possibility: Michael Vick, the New Survivorman. Send him out into the wilderness with nothing but a pocket knife, the rings off a six-pack and a couple of cameras and see if he lasts seven days. Are those wolves I hear off in the bushes? Oh dear, I think Michael’s wet his pants. Hey, is that a car battery those wolves are pushing along with their noses? Are those nipple-clamps? I believe we’re about to experience the true meaning of poetic justice.
Ratings gold.Tags: barack obama, danny bonaduce, david hasselhoff, michael richards, michael vick, o.j. simpson, paris hilton, patty hearst, phil spector, roger goodell, survivorman