Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Jacksons: A Family Dynasty

I keep wanting to write that title as The Jacksons: A Family Tragedy, which is really what this sad train wreck of a reality show amounts to. Jermaine, Marlon, Tito and Jackie Jackson take the opportunity of their brother Michael's death to grab some of the long-faded spotlight for themselves, with cameras following them as they allegedly attempt to record a comeback album and organize new live performances (none of which have materialized yet). As reality shows go, it's your typical dull series of contrivances, as the siblings bicker and make up and go through the motions of some predetermined task that they clearly have no interest in.

But Michael's death looms over the whole thing and renders it even more crass and disingenuous, as the brothers constantly complain about the media attention that drove Michael over the edge, all while they are cultivating even more attention for themselves. The show can't go two minutes without reminding the audience of Michael's connection to his brothers, whether through explicit references or through the vintage Jackson 5 music (with Michael's vocals) that plays repeatedly.

The idea of a real Jackson dynasty could be something worthwhile - we briefly see some of the many, many next-generation Jacksons, including Tito's sons, who have a successful boy band in Europe, and Jackie's son Siggy, an aspiring rapper. There's a whole legacy thing here to potentially explore, as well as the contrast between the drudgery that went into the Jackson 5's creation and the luxury that the next generation experiences. But that's not what the show's about. It's just four over-the-hill guys bickering over a bunch of inconsequential nonsense, and the only reason anyone cares is because of a dead guy who isn't on the show at all.

Premieres tonight at 9 p.m. on A&E.

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