By: Shaun Leonard
Editor’s Note: For more film and TV thoughts from Shaun, listen to www.isitabicycle.com, with new episodes airing every Friday.
Wake Up Call is a new reality show from TNT about Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson helping everyday people who are facing enormous challenges. Each episode chronicles the struggle of a different individual; ordinary people in extraordinary yet relatable situations.
Wake Up Call isn’t The Rock’s first attempt to motivate people in front of a camera. He worked with TNT previously on The Hero, a competitive reality show that ran for a single season from June 6 – August 1 of 2013.
Johnson, media mogul, box-office titan and man mountain, tries to inspire people with the story of his own wake up call. After multiple arrests and the end of his football career, the professional wrestler turned actor had seven bucks in his pocket and few options.
Wake Up Call follows him into the lives of deadbeat dads, obese football coaches and struggling business owners to see if he can encourage people to change for the better.
Johnson’s natural charisma should be the greatest draw for the show, but unfortunately the silverback’s animal magnetism was partly stagnated by the format, at least in a preview episode this reviewer watched. Perhaps it's the staged nature of the predictably edited show, but The Great One’s patented electricity didn’t light up the room quite as frequently as one would’ve hoped.
Despite this, The Rock’s star power and consistent track record in every form of entertainment should be enough to convince any naysayers that the show has legs. And the Samoan Thor is still as funny as ever.
In the end, every reality show like this lives and dies on the strength of its stories, of its everyday heroes. Wake Up Call goes the extra mile to show the reality of people’s problems.
An early episode has The Rock stage a faux funeral to scare a dangerously overweight football coach out of his self-destructive ways. There is little subtlety to the show’s portrayal of struggle, which is its strength and its weakness.
Anyone interested in shows like The Biggest Loser or MTV’s Made will find this show similarly touching and inspiring. Anyone who’d rather eat the sofa than watch reality television should stay well away.
Wake Up Call premieres December 12th at 9/8c only on TNT Drama.