Recasting happens all the time — if it didn’t, then it would have been Eric Stolz, not Michael J. Fox, who rose to stardom thanks to the Back to the Future franchise. But when it happens in a project in progress, you can’t help but compare the new to the old — and as someone threatened by change, I often struggle to accept the new direction.
When I first reviewed the reality dating series Digits, a big factor in my appreciation of it was its star and host, model and actor Fabrizio Brienza. His European charm, affable nature and silver fox good looks helped him stand out from the snarky young men who populate the world of web video, and watching him attempt to score the phone numbers of women via various crazy stunts was pretty entertaining. The numbers agreed, too, with almost 8.6 million views for the series as of today, and most episodes scoring view counts in the six figures.
This week, however, the show’s second season premiered with new host Rob Bradford — a snarky young man who, as an actor, has some soaps and independent feature credits under his belt. According to the YouTube show page, “We wanted to see how a boy-next-door type would fare getting DiGiTS,” but as mentioned above, I don’t like change and thus, guys, I need your help.
For, in defense of Bradford: He’s cute, funny and relatable, with what appears to be very little shame. Those are excellent qualities for a web host to have. He also has, on camera, a more engaging personality than Brienza, which the show uses as it tries to kickstart more user interaction (each episode now ends with a direct-to-camera plea for comments and video responses, and the official site and YouTube have both become places for people to make suggestions and comment on the show).
But, in defense of Brienza: Well, he’s got all of the aforementioned qualities, which mean that he’ll never be mistaken for a Kevin Rose clone. Plus, a strong central character can make all the difference in the oversaturated web video market — Brienza had a sense of mystery to him that went a long way towards intriguing this lady, anyways.
In addition, Bradford’s attempts to rack up the phone numbers of women come off as a lot more desperate than Brienza. Whereas Brienza stood out as a truly smooth player who only occasionally sabotaged himself, Bradford is so far one for two attempts, and that first acquisition of digits came only when the target agreed to give him her number so that he would stop bugging her.
The changes in host and format represent an admirable desire for evolution on the part of production company Driver Digital — but I remain genuinely torn about whether or not that evolution ultimately will lead to a better show than it was before. So if you have thoughts to share in the comments, please do — or just vote in this handy poll below!
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