When I was asked to review this for the Discovery Channel, I did
not read the summary of the info ahead of time, so I figured it would be either
a historical or nature program. I was surprised to find that it is basically a
reality show. It seems like every channel has one nowadays.
Now, I don't like reality shows as a general rule. They are usually either
tawdry, involve shallow, dislikable people, or gross things like eating bugs, or
they are just plain boring. At least from the few I've seen. I admit that I
prefer fiction so I don't usually waste my time even watching non-fiction.
This show "The Monastery" is about 5 men who go to a monastery to see if it can
help them fix the problems of their lives. One is a former Satanist, now an
episcopalian. One is a comedian who has had trouble kicking alcohol. Another is
an Iraqi veteran who had his leg blown off. Several are lapsed Catholics of
various kinds. They stay in the monastery for 40 days, learning to stick to the
abbot's schedule and discipline. The most telling comment came from the Iraqi
veteran, who said that boot camp was easier than going to the monastery because
there was not as much time to think. Learning meditation and how to sit still is
difficult for the men (it would be for me, too--I'd probably fall asleep).
To me it is a bit slow-moving, but that's probably because I am used to
fast-moving action/adventures shows, scifi, and cop dramas. It was not
hard to get into or difficult to get used to the pace, and it does speed up as
it goes on. It is a fascinating story and the people are
interesting. If you want to watch an intelligent, thoughtful reality show, this
is a good one to choose.
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