Television Review: Make My Day
by R.J. Carter
Published: August 6, 2009
In a time when television is filled with reality series that show all the dirty corners of a person's life, or hidden camera shows that broadcast the schadenfreude of watching other people react to practical jokes, TV Land delivers a shining gem of a feel good program with Make My Day, a half-hour hidden camera show with some real heart.
Taking the framework of Candid Camera and infusing it with the good karma of Extreme Home Makeover, Make My Day rewards an individual by making a series of great things happen to him or her over the course of a single day, all without the person knowing that these events are being orchestrated.
The first episode of the series aired Wednesday, August 5, and featured Staten Island's John Castellano, of Castellano's House of Music. We learn right away that John is a fan of Eric Clapton, the New York Giants, and The Sopranos. With the help of Castellano's family, the crew hide cameras in his shop and home, in addition to the other locations John will unwittingly find himself that day.
John's day begin when he leaves his house to find his driveway blocked by a stalled car. Proving chivalry is not dead, John helps push the car out of the way and offers the woman a ride to her destination. As "luck" would have it, the woman is a concert promoter, and she rewards John with two front-row tickets to that night's Eric Clapton concert. (Being a gentleman, John tries to refuse the gift, but ultimately relents -- it is her job to promote the concert, after all.)
As John recounts his amazing good fortune to the crew at Castellano's House of Music, he's shocked to find his newest customer is New York Giants' superstar, Amani Toomer, there to see about getting a guitar and some lessons. John is ecstatic to meet one of his idols, and enjoys the opportunity to give Toomer some one-on-one instructions with the guitar -- and then gives Toomer a guitar of his choice. Toomer repays the kindness with an autographed football, but it doesn't end there.
While Toomer is in the store, he "accidentally" leaves his cell phone behind. Ringing it, he asks for John to bring it to him so that nobody gets the numbers off of it. John's happy to comply, and is taken by Toomer's driver to the bowling alley where Toomer is knocking down pins with none other than Vincent Pastore! Pastore is looking for a partner, and John just happens to bowl a 160 in league play. But Pastore isn't the only plant -- there are also two professional bowlers, and Pastore challenges them to a game for money. With $1000 on a single frame, John bowls a strike against the nine pins knocked down by the pro, and Pastore splits the winnings with him.
The big reveal to John comes after he drives Pastore to a commercial shoot he's doing to promote New York tourism, along with Toomer. While on the set, one of the commercial actors pretends to be completely inept at delivering his lines, and Pastore asks if John can stand in. John does, of course, and does the Big Apple proud. Only after the commercial is shot does John find out what's going on, as the director replays the commercial on the television screen... and John sees himself helping the young woman with car trouble.
Make My Day is slated for a six-episode run, and it would be harder to pull off the series a second time as people would eventually begin to wise up that they were on a television program if they began experiencing the incredible string of luck like John's. That doesn't stop me from wishing there were more shows like this out there, or that Make My Day could enjoy a longer life.