No one really thought it would work, a reality teevee show about government spending. And it didn't, not at first. Understandably.
It started out as "Let's Pretend We Care About Spending!" It was a once-in-a-while program on cable access teevee -- a standard talking-heads, earnest round-table discussion, sprinkled with flat, mic-in-the-audience-of-five comments.
Intentions were pure, with producers trying to jump-start civic involvement and legitimate political discussion -- replacing apathy and posing -- in the country and its people.
The first program featured sincere discussions trying to parse and discover the relative values of spending on boll weevil research versus ridding the Great Lakes of accidental Asian snail immigrants, transplanted via hulls of ships and boats.
It was dense, real-life stuff affecting all of us, in some way, if minutely. The shows were as lethal as poison gas, as entertainment goes.
Now, almost a year later, after ongoing tinkering and substantial revamping, "The Fantasy Grants Show" is a nightly cable-and-network program that routinely crushes all competition. The hordes of spin-offs took off fast, and, you know as well as I do, there's just no end in sight -- people are crazy about them all, and the audiences keep growing.