The "reality TV" craze is taken to its final, logical extreme as six people hunt each other down in a small town for the benefit of network TV cameras in this darkly comic satire. "The Contenders" is a top-rated… More The "reality TV" craze is taken to its final, logical extreme as six people hunt each other down in a small town for the benefit of network TV cameras in this darkly comic satire. "The Contenders" is a top-rated television game show in which six contestants are set loose in the same Connecticut community, with orders to kill or be killed; the last of the six who is still alive is declared the winner. As "The Contenders" goes into its seventh season, Dawn (Brooke Smith) is a two-time champion who is hoping to hold on to her title, despite the fact that she's due to have a baby in a month. Dawn's rivals this time out are Tony (Michael Kaycheck), an unemployed blue-collar worker with a taste for violence; Connie (Marylouise Burke), a middle-aged nurse who doesn't like to hurt people but is an experienced hand with a syringe; Lindsay (Merritt Wever), an 18-year-old dance student whose parents are eager to see her compete; Franklin (Richard Venture), an elderly conspiracy theorist with a tenuous hold on reality; and Jeff (Glenn Fitzgerald), who is dying of testicular cancer -- and was Dawn's boyfriend years ago. Series 7: The Contenders marked the directorial debut for Daniel Minahan, who previously employed pop culture and America's obsession with violence as themes in his screenplay for I Shot Andy Warhol.
Consensus: Boasting no big-name stars, Series 7 is surprisingly well-acted. Its timing is impeccable, with its dark humor casting shadows over the enjoyment and popularity of today's reality-TV shows.