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,
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.