Being locked away with a vampire, a witch and a voodoo priestess should send anyone running off into the night, but Sci Fi Channel's Mad, Mad House will more likely scare viewers to another channel.
Mad pairs a group of five proponents of alternative lifestyles with 10 everyday people. It's a concept that sounds good on paper, but in Sci Fi's latest attempt at reality programming, the Alts are as unique to the mainstream as they are to each other — and are almost too disjointed to pull off the scare.
The show starts with each of the Alts choosing a contestant with whom to sleep alone in a room for the night. Over the course of its 10-hour run, the Alts will banish guests with the winner taking home $100,000.
Fiona is a Wiccan who toured with No Doubt and once interviewed Britney Spears. She's tall, blonde, and shows lots of cleavage. But's she so inoffensive her most controversial attribute is her pet snake.
Iya Ta'Shia Asanti, the voodoo priestess, could double as the former Miss Cleo. A rare moment of tension happens when she hosts a voodoo ceremony where the majority of the contestants refuse to participate.
David "Avocado" Wolfe has no trouble getting out as a naturist who eats raw plants and believes in a "clothing optional" lifestyle. His first roommate, a virgin, wakes up to see him on full display.
Art, the modern primitive, respects the guests and smiles easily. He uses "body modification" for spiritual growth, but his stretchers — pieces of jewelry similar to earrings which stretch the holes in the lobes of the ears — and tattoos are still not distracting enough to divert the eye when he sunbathes sans trunks.
If Art is the house's lighter side, Don Henrie provides its, er, dark shadow. With his white contact lenses and long, pointed fingernails, the vampire drinks "blood" from a wine glass, trying to conjure the aura of Dracula. But his persona smells more like teen spirit as he invites a guest to try his casket, then smiles as he leans on top so the poor guy can't exit.
The alternatives are not frightening or gruesome. Despite its attempts at shocking behavior and bizarre events, Mad is filled with flat scenes, lackluster tension and ultimately a house full of "strangers."
Mad, Mad House bows on Sci Fi March 4 at 9 p.m.