What Went Wrong With 'The Mole'?
What Went Wrong With 'The Mole'?
Less than three million people tuned in last night to learn that Craig was secretly The Mole, which is just the latest ratings fumble for the little seen reality series.  ABC hoped they'd have a summer smash on their hands when they relaunched the franchise back in June, but instead they ended up with a massive failure that few people cared to watch.  If the opinions of BuddyTV readers are any indication, even those who did watch to the end thought that the fifth season paled in comparison to the original non-celebrity editions hosted by Anderson Cooper.  Where did The Mole go wrong, and is there any chance this reality franchise can be saved?

I never saw the first four seasons of The Mole, so unfortunately I can't compare the latest edition to anything that came before.  I can, however, point out the obvious problems with the latest season, and perhaps figure out why so few people tuned in.

The Time Slot

Monday night at 10pm is a the worst time slot for a competitive reality show that I can think of.  The reality fare that's been getting big ratings this summer (Wipeout, America's Got Talent, So You Think You Can Dance) airs much earlier in the evening.  If the rest of America is anything like me, they probably don't care to stay up until 11pm on the first night of the work week.

The Host

I personally enjoyed the sly sense of humor Jon Kelley brought to the role, but most fans didn't think he compared to Anderson Cooper.  Maybe getting a bigger name to headline the show would have helped.  Surely Regis could have handled hosting one more series, right?

Not Letting Viewers In On the Secret

This may be The Mole's biggest failing.  The most exciting portion of last night's episode was watching how Craig sabotaged the other players throughout the competition.  As fun as that was to watch, it added up to maybe five minutes of screen time.  The show would have been a blast to watch had the viewers known who the mole was from the beginning.  Some of the mystery would have been lost, but the excitement of watching Craig lie to everyone's face as he struggled to keep money out of the pot would have been wonderfully entertaining.  It also would have been amusing to watch all the other players guess incorrectly about the mole's true identity.  Viewers like to feel as if they know more than the people up on screen, but The Mole never allowed them that privilege.

Unfortunately for fans of the franchise, The Mole is likely dead once and for all.  ABC took at risk when they decided to resurrect the series, but that risk didn't pay off.  Even though the show was a failure, I can't help but feel it could have been a success had it been tweaked a little and placed in a better time slot.  The network is ultimately the one to blame for this summer's most overlooked reality series.

- Don Williams, BuddyTV Staff Writer
(Image courtesy of ABC)