Justin Timberlake and MTV's 'The Phone': Hang on or hang up?

Oh, Justin Timberlake, curse you and your insidious charm! Would I — and perhaps some of you — have watched the premiere of MTV’s new reality/game show The Phone had Timberlake not been promoting it in his role as an executive producer? Probably not. The wispy-bearded wonder doesn’t appear on camera, but I watched the whole frantic thing to its $50,000-prize conclusion, to see what drew the singer to bring an American version of a Holland game show to the home of The Hills.

Basically a scavenger hunt with the production values of an indie film, The Phone sets two teams of two off on various tasks. They’re given their orders via cell-phone calls from The Operator — actually heavily-Irish-accented actor Emmett J. Scanlan, and shouldn’t he really be called The Caller? Anyway, the game began with a car bursting into flames in Seattle and included one contestant crawling around the rim of that city’s tall Space Needle, pawing around for clues.

The Phone has some fundamental things going against it. Exploding cars in public places, and having prize-hungry people search for a “mad bomber” before he strikes again — well, that’s just plain creepy and cynical, playing on our fears of acts of public terror.

It also commits a lesser — but on jumpy, ADD-addled MTV unforgivable — sin: at an hour, it’s too long to sustain interest. While I wanted to know if the two finalists would achieve their goal and win the money (and prevent Seattle from being fake-blown-up), the only thing that kept me going toward the end were the show’s commercials. Don’t you kinda really want to see Beyonce kick Ali Larter’s ass in Obsessed this weekend? And what’s up with that happily ditzy commercial for cotton starring, and with music sung by, Zooey Deschanel?

Did you watch The Phone? Would you watch it again? Did it creep you out at all?


Comments (41 total) Add your comment
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  • colton

    dumb show. good try JT

  • Adam
  • texasfan

    loved this show, I will watch again next week, anybody know if they are doing any episodes in Dallas?

  • Kim from Texas

    It was actually a very exciting show for me. I was on the edge of my chair the whole time. Part of the suspense is what would happen if they yelled that there is the bomber inside the middle of Pike’s Place Market. Imagine the chaos! What would happen if a group of ordinary people on the street saw the bomb inside the van, or the car exploding? Imagine the panic! This show is way too good to be on MTV.

  • Sydne

    i’m watching it now and it looks really fake. what a waste of time..
    seriously everyone’s like smiling in the background and the dialogue is totally scripted. the girl’s all like “oh my got but i’m supposed to be printing these pictures…”
    who says that?

  • hannahjosephson

    seeing that guy climbing the space needle was so intense, never seen anything like that. congrats Justin!

  • B-riddle-dizzle

    how gay… so fake. i just watched it and yeah… one of THE stupidest shows on tv right now

  • Denise

    I thought it had an interesting premise (seeing as how I enjoyed the movie “Eagle Eye”). However, I didn’t really understand how they could get away with doing certain things (like blowing up a car) without having everyone in the area know what was/is going on? Was everyone actors?
    Final answer: too long a show, and a bad time slot, it didn’t keep my interest.

  • Callie

    I thought it was really fun! Don’t just sit back and watch cynically. Put yourself in the shoes of the players and it really gets your heart going. I thought it was different and really cool. It is a huge step up from the other horrible reality shows on MTV!

  • Sarah

    i really didnt like the show “the phone”, it was way to unrealitic and complicated for me to follow

  • mick

    I enjoyed it. I thought it was alot of fun. But I also love action movies. Since there’s only six shows I’ll watch them all.

  • stevona ferguson

    I loved the show. Alot of action and I will watch it again

  • wastyourtime@yahoo.com

    the show is on right now where i live and im having a real hard time believing its not scripted, actually i dont. this show sucks! reality tv is played out and i feel this is just more mindless crap!

  • Remy


  • michelle

    this is an awful show. it is not believable in the least. the actors are horrible, the concept is ridiculus and i cant even believe mtv let it air. i will not watch this show ever again. this is one of the worst shows that i have ever seen. yuck. does anyone acually believe that this is real? honestly…

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