Is the definition of a hero subjective? Or is there one meaning we can all agree on? That’s one of the ideas the new TNT reality competition show “The Hero” ponders. The other is: Everyone has a price.


 


Hosted by Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson and set in Panama, the physical challenges of this show are tough but what you might expect. Contestants repel down skyscrapers and crawl through maze-like bunkers in the dark. They climb, run, swim, push, pull and generally reach the point of physical exhaustion. But it’s the promise of cold hard cash in the form of temptations offered by Johnson that really make this show fun to watch.


 


Each week, the nine participants decide on which six of them will form a team to take on the first of three challenges. Once they complete the first task, the six vote to reduce their team to three members who must do challenge number two. The three are then cut down to one person who all nine contestants vote for to compete in the final “hero” challenge. If the person in this last task successfully completes it, they can choose to add the prize money to a pot which will be claimed by one person at the end. Or sometimes, they can keep it for themselves. Johnson adds a new twist a few episodes in that I won’t ruin for you.


 


If they take the money, they can tell the others that they failed to complete the challenge. So unless they add the money to the overall jackpot, no one really knows what happened—except the viewers. This is important because the audience decides who takes home the jackpot at the end of the season. To complicate things further, contestants are secretly offered money during challenges (separate to the jackpot money). If they accept it, there will be consequences for the people competing that make it harder to finish their task. The other players may or may not figure out who betrayed them for cash. This of course, leads to an overall sense of paranoia and mistrust. “Survivor” works on a similar principle but the viewers aren’t in charge of the final outcome which makes “The Hero” a more layered show.


 


Johnson, who is great on camera, moves between motivational life coach and charming devil. One minute he’s telling morality tales. The next, he appears in the middle of a task to offer a contestant $35,000 to sabotage his teammates.


 


All this sets the stage for an intriguing ethical debate. Is it heroic to refuse the money when the chance of winning the jackpot is only one out of nine? Or do you go for the easy score knowing it may be your only opportunity to leave the game with anything? Maybe you run a great public relations campaign, branding yourself as beyond all temptation, in the hope that the audience will vote for you at the end. This last option poses another dilemma. As one contestant wondered: Is it heroic to try and look good just to earn viewers’ votes? Or is it more commendable to be honest and admit that you really need the money?


 


Then again, the guy asking these last two questions took the money the Rock offered him, hid it from his fellow players then admitted it by telling a rather compelling story about how much the cash will help him. Is he a cunning strategist or bravely honest? Ultimately, the viewers’ choice depends less on how much they like someone and more on how they define a hero, making this reality show a clever addition to the genre.


 


“The Hero” is on Thursdays at 10 pm EDT on TNT.


 

Is the definition of a hero subjective? Or is there one meaning we can all agree on? That’s one of the ideas the new TNT reality competition show “The Hero” ponders. The other is: Everyone has a price.

 

Hosted by Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson and set in Panama, the physical challenges of this show are tough but what you might expect. Contestants repel down skyscrapers and crawl through maze-like bunkers in the dark. They climb, run, swim, push, pull and generally reach the point of physical exhaustion. But it’s the promise of cold hard cash in the form of temptations offered by Johnson that really make this show fun to watch.

 

Each week, the nine participants decide on which six of them will form a team to take on the first of three challenges. Once they complete the first task, the six vote to reduce their team to three members who must do challenge number two. The three are then cut down to one person who all nine contestants vote for to compete in the final “hero” challenge. If the person in this last task successfully completes it, they can choose to add the prize money to a pot which will be claimed by one person at the end. Or sometimes, they can keep it for themselves. Johnson adds a new twist a few episodes in that I won’t ruin for you.

 

If they take the money, they can tell the others that they failed to complete the challenge. So unless they add the money to the overall jackpot, no one really knows what happened—except the viewers. This is important because the audience decides who takes home the jackpot at the end of the season. To complicate things further, contestants are secretly offered money during challenges (separate to the jackpot money). If they accept it, there will be consequences for the people competing that make it harder to finish their task. The other players may or may not figure out who betrayed them for cash. This of course, leads to an overall sense of paranoia and mistrust. “Survivor” works on a similar principle but the viewers aren’t in charge of the final outcome which makes “The Hero” a more layered show.

 

Johnson, who is great on camera, moves between motivational life coach and charming devil. One minute he’s telling morality tales. The next, he appears in the middle of a task to offer a contestant $35,000 to sabotage his teammates.

 

All this sets the stage for an intriguing ethical debate. Is it heroic to refuse the money when the chance of winning the jackpot is only one out of nine? Or do you go for the easy score knowing it may be your only opportunity to leave the game with anything? Maybe you run a great public relations campaign, branding yourself as beyond all temptation, in the hope that the audience will vote for you at the end. This last option poses another dilemma. As one contestant wondered: Is it heroic to try and look good just to earn viewers’ votes? Or is it more commendable to be honest and admit that you really need the money?

 

Then again, the guy asking these last two questions took the money the Rock offered him, hid it from his fellow players then admitted it by telling a rather compelling story about how much the cash will help him. Is he a cunning strategist or bravely honest? Ultimately, the viewers’ choice depends less on how much they like someone and more on how they define a hero, making this reality show a clever addition to the genre.

 

“The Hero” is on Thursdays at 10 pm EDT on TNT.