Dear Program Parole Board: Please Make Our Liquid Dreams Come True

The Show: Making The Band (famous original non-Diddy version)

The Concept: Uber-successful boy-band impresario Lou Pearlman, the biz brains behind *NSYNC, LFO, and others, held nationwide auditions for his next license to print mon-- sorry, "Pre-Fab Five." The final eight lived together, tried to learn to sing and/or dance, and eventually became a band of five…and then four…and then five again. Christened O-Town in honor of their home base in Orlando, FL, the just post-adolescent tween dreams achieved modest chart success just as the boy-band phenomenon began its final circumnavigations of the drain; achieved astounding success at annoying anyone who had ever had a real job for more than ten minutes; and jackhammered the final nail into the coffin of white-guy dreads. Or so we hoped.

After the first season, the show moved from ABC to MTV, and the band moved under the aegis of Clive Davis.

Opening Credits Cast: After Paul Martin quit and Mike Miller and Bryan Chan were eliminated for an excess of talent, five remained: Ashley Parker Angel (18, super-cute); Jacob Underwood (aggro, dreads, couldn't stop reminding people he'd been playing since age 5); Erik-Michael Estrada (lips, work-ethic issues); Trevor Penick (couldn't really sing); and Ikaika Kahoano, the Hawaiian who epitomized the word "hangdog" and basically let his brother Haku breach his contract. Ikaika was replaced by Dan "the Man" Miller (and went on to form his own boy band, LMNT, with Miller and Chan).

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Notable Guest Stars: "Jabba the" Lou Pearlman, usually perched on a chair or sofa so awkwardly that he's seconds away from rolling off like a belted, fraudulent exercise ball; various TransCon Corp. flunkies and minders, including Marc, the long-suffering aide tasked with getting O-Town places on time, holding Ikaika's Kleenex, et cetera; and a parade of "you don't pay enough attention to meeeeeeee"-whining girlfriends with nouveau-spelled names like Shelli and Carrah.

Why It's In TV Jail: "Because Lou Pearlman went to actual jail" is a very tempting punchline (his Wikipedia page lists him as a "confidence trickster," which in a pathetic way is kind of rad), but the truth is, I don't know. It may have to do with shared rights between two networks; it may in fact have to do with Pearlman's Ponzi doings; I suspect the real reasoning is that there isn't an appetite for it. That's incorrect.

Why It Deserves Parole: It's an awesome turn-of-the-millennium time capsule, in the sense that it inspires awe -- the gel, Pearlman's girth, Jacob's preternatural ability to be exactly right and a smug assface at the same time, Ikaika's co-dependence on basically everyone, the terrible singing. Making The Band also conveys, probably without exactly intending to, the fishbowl the five guys existed in for several years that prepared them for nothing, seeing almost nobody except each other, running in their hamster wheels, and slowly realizing that their draconian contracts plus Pearlman's increasingly evident allergy to business ethics (and alleged habit of molesting the talent) equaled a big, irremediable mistake. A lot of reality shows document the huge chasm between what a 19-year-old thinks he knows and what he actually knows. Making The Band opened a fucking Starbucks in there.

You can watch MTB1 on YouTube, thanks to an O-Town channel out of Chile (!), but the quality is muzzy and herky at best, and some eps simply won't load.

Recommendation: Four founding members (everyone except Ashley) recently started threatening to release another album; it may sound like folly, but the New "Kids" have paid for their own kids' college ten times over with nostalgia touring. One reasonably successful Kickstarter and O-Town can launch a small-clubs tour -- and MTV can capitalize on the attention by releasing Seasons 2 and 3 on their website. Send an intern over to the Disney archives to steal the S1 masters back from ABC ("Operation Dumb Drop") and let's get this done.

In the meantime, give Tyler Gray's Hit Charade a try for more on Pearlman's checkered career.

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