Fox Sport’s new reality show “Replay” begs the questions: “Can a person go back and relive the most important moments in life?” And even more philosophically important: “Can a man who is overweight, out of shape and 15 years past his prime still play football in a way that anyone would want to watch?”
Sundays at 9 p.m.
Fox Sports funded the creation of one of its newest shows under the premise that, yes, all of these things are possible. “Replay” gives sports teams a second go at winning the major games of their high school careers, whether the past games were undecided due to rain, ended in a tie or were deemed unfair for some reason.
In the pilot, the 1993 football game of Easton High School vs. Phillipsburg High School was the replayed contest. This time gap meant that the team members were all older, so the added factor of age was revisited over and over throughout the episode. The team members complained incessantly about the aches, pains and maladies of not being 18 anymore.
Half the footage consisted of older men doing push-ups and sweating copiously in a high school gym. This was supposed to add an interesting facet to a fairly simple backbone of the show. However, a player admitting he hasn’t kicked a football in 10 years and doesn’t even know if he can isn’t an ideal way to bring out the competitive passion in an audience. Especially if they’re already having trouble mustering interest in someone else’s dissatisfaction with the past.
Still, “Replay” manages to pick up the general feeling of a class reunion, and the players’ obvious excitement and emotion is endearing without question.
This enthusiasm isn’t enough to make up for the tediously repetitive interviews, though. The football game can get similarly repetitive if those watching have no personal investment. This is a fact even the creators seem to recognize, judging by their constant use of side stories and distractions — a tactic that, surprisingly, may actually be for the better.
From one player’s survival of cancer, to another’s mother leaving him during high school, these subplots are not without merit. It’s hard not to sympathize with both plights, and even more difficult not to admire their levels of perseverance and commitment. Cheesy most definitely, but scorn-worthy they are not.
At a few points in the episode, the cameras panned over to the reunited cheerleaders, women whose teenage years were so far behind them that it seemed valid to wonder if they’re not conducting a search for long lost youth within their colorful, bouncing pompoms.
It’s depressing to hear that a 34-year-old mother and wife has already left behind what she considers to be the best times of her life. Interviews include statements like, “This is the best moment — it will be the best moment — other than when my daughter was born.”
“Replay” might be watchable, if not for the absolutely tactless Gatorade product placement. Even a recovered cancer survivor spoke to Gatorade’s usefulness in the face of chemotherapy during the pilot.
If nothing else, “Replay” is perfect evidence that reliving the glory days of high school is somewhat pitiable, and that, as one player put it, “If you’re not really from here you don’t really understand what this rivalry is about.” The show itself is not horribly constructed, but the pity factor coats over everything and makes it almost impossible to watch even the decent parts of “Replay” without cringing.