Mark Cuban seems to pride himself on being a "risk-taker," and the majority of his risks have paid-off. He made his fortune by starting and then selling broadcast.com to Yahoo! He throws money at the Dallas Mavericks, and year-to-year they've become a better team. Along with partner Todd Wagner, he has sunk a ton of money into the hi-def satellite and cable channel HDNet as well as the formation of 2929 Entertainment, financing indie distributor Magnolia Pictures and great art-hours chain Landmark Theaters, as in the Landmark Sunshine Cinema to all you New Yorkers. He's also backing the new venture HDNet Films which is mandated to make several HD indie films per year and currently has (I believe) three films in some stage of production. Hopefully, each of these endeavors will be successful.
The Benefactor on the other hand, won't be.
With the possible exception of Fox's awful attempt to capitalize on Paradise Hotel with the painful Forever Eden, I can't think of a more unwatchable reality show. The Benefactor wants to be The Apprentice, except these contestants basically just have to not piss-off Cuban. I watched the first episode, and although I sat through the whole thing, about half-way through, I deleted episode 2 from my DiVo. I knew there was no way I could subject myself to another hour of this drivel.
First of all, Cuban is no Trump. He may be as talented a business man and have similar size cajones when it comes to taking chances, but whatever camera-charisma Trump has, even with his terrible cue card readings, Cuban is missing it. In fact, he comes across overly-smarmy. Maybe it's because he's always grinning, and part of the show had this weird voyeuristic element with him watching the contestants from a back room that was just creepy, and not in an entertaining way.
Second, and more importantly, there's nothing to this show. Basically, Cuban will give $1 Million to whomever he likes best. And believe me, you will never forget that because every third thing said by anyone – Cuban and contestants – is that someone has the chance, or has lost it, to win $1-Million. Seriously, imagine Dr. Evil sticking his pinky to the corner of his mouth, but instead of the line being for comic relief, it's treated as the most serious, awe-inspiring line ever. In fact, while Trump has, "You're fired," Cuban is stuck with the incredibly bland, "You've last your chance at one million dollars."
Also, this is literally a show about absolutely nothing. It's trying to be tricky by doing the unexpected – getting rid of three people in the first episode, for example. Cuban lets loose the first contestant, minutes after introducing himself to his sad sixteen, simply based on what he saw in the back room. This one guy (can't remember his name) had innocently said something about how he thinks the show will be "stupid," but not in a regular reality-show way because it will be a cooler kind of "stupid." It was a completely innocuous comment, mostly talking about how all reality shows are some sort of prefabricated and silly reality with absurd little tasks. Well, Cuban comes out and says to him, "You can't call my show 'stupid' man. You've gotta go."
Hey, you know what's stupid? Not being able to decide on the last of your three departing contestants (because your whole process has no point) so you make them play Jenga, and the winner stays. That was beyond "stupid." Aside from being the worst ever product-placement in anything ever, it was plain boring, and no amount of editing or music or Cuban doing Macauley Culkin Home Alone impressions would add to the non-tension of this several minute who-gives-a-crap sequence.
This entire show is stupid, from the pretentious and annoying opening credits to the non-confessional confessionals. If I cared more (or hadn't deleted the episode as quickly as possible after I finished it), I could write why in more detail. But I've already devoted more web-space to The Benefactor than it deserves. Hopefully, ABC will see the error in its ways very soon and show benevolence to its audience by canceling this piece of crap.