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Summer Starters
Gordon Pepper

Over 30 summer game shows.

However you look at it, that's a huge number of shows that will be coming out. We got our first taste of it this week, and so far, based on the ratings, the audiences are very happy with what they see. After watching these shows, I was also surprised - none of the shows so far have been proverbial summer junk that you would expect to see as throwaways, and even the 'trashy' shows have been far from trash.

Of course, I do have a column to write, and the shows do need to be critiqued, so...

Hell's Kitchen - Gordon Ramsay is a monster inside the kitchen, as he tortures the contestants. Torturing includes cursing them out, shoving their bad food dishes in their chest, and, in the next episode, making them work without any air conditioning. I don't know whether to like this show or not - I do agree with Ramsay on the quality of the food and some of his rationale, but I am not too thrilled of his over-the-top antics and the first night of everything being so bad that almost nothing was served reeked of being a set-up. Yet when I wanted to change the channel, I couldn't - there was something compelling about the show. Maybe I was waiting for one of the contestants to go crazy and attack him with a sous-knife. I'll withhold judgment on the show right now and see hot it develops - and hopes that it doesn't come out half-baked.

Beauty and the Geek - Everything is set up to try to get some sort of romance going between the beautiful but airheaded beauties and the brilliant but socially-inept geek. Fine, I'll have to deal with it. The show from a game-playing standpoint? Incredibly entertaining and fun to see. The casting has been well done and this show has what others doesn't; if it doesn't degenerate into a mess, then Ashton Kutcher may have another hit on their hands... and the WB may have their first.

Dancing With the Stars - When you have a show that involves celebrities outside of their element, pending on the amount of work that they put into the show, you can either have a success (the Password/Pyramid/To Tell The Truth series), a fun little train wreck (Celebrity Spelling Bee), or an unmitigated disaster (I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here and Turn the TV Off as You Leave). This show works because the celebrities have taken this very seriously. It also works because most of the spotlight falls on the professional dancers, which leaves the celebrities with the easier movements, with some flair. My only comment - stop trying to find someone who acts like Simon Cowell. Simon is Simon. Worry about finding a judge with their own personality.

Hit Me Baby 1 More Time - Like the previous show, this show is based on the commitment of the artists on the show. Despite some of them nailing the pitch (CeCe Peniston, Arrested Development) and others trying to hit the pitch and missing (Tiffany), the artists clearly were there to impress and it showed. The person who did the worst? The host, who truly needs to be dampened, if not muzzled. It's going to be fun to go back down memory lane, as we see coming up... Vanilla Ice??!? Shudder...

Kept - Jerry Hall needs a man. She has a bunch to put through the paces. If you've seen one of these sort of shows (Manhunt), you've seen them all. Of course, this is as trashy as it gets, but it's at least entertaining, unlike...

Strip Search - There are some shows that I cover because no one else wants to go near it. This happens to be one of them - and it's warranted. This is less of a game show and more of the plight into the dark life of an overzealous promoter for the 'Thunder Down Under' as he looks for seven beefcakes for a new male revue show. After watching these two shows, I got the same sick feeling when I saw the debut of Cupid and The Next Action Star - some ideas are much better on paper than in execution and there should have been someone there to say "This ain't going to work. Let's save ourselves a lot of money and time." Of course, there would also be no programming, so we get this anyways. The 'talent' (both the protagonists and the competitors) are not compelling and I don't know how many people will still be around when this one is over.

Those are my thought with the first batch of shows. We'll have four more next week that we'll take a gander at. Join me in five days to take a look at them.

Gordon Pepper can be reached at


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