TBS, 'Jack’ In Search Of 'Outback’ Laughs

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What would you get if you crossed CBS’s Survivor with ABC’s The Bachelor? Why, the new TBS reality series Outback Jack, of course.

Don’t deny it, we all sat there on Thursday nights thinking to ourselves, this would be so much better if Jerri, Amber and Elisabeth were trying to survive Australia’s Outback and win Colby’s heart.

Unfortunately, Bruce Nash — you may remember him as the producer of such reality fare as Meet My Folks, For Love or Money and Who Wants to Marry My Dad? — has acted on those thoughts.

TBS, with its new “very funny” tagline, is billing Outback Jack as a “reality comedy series.”

The network was somewhat reluctant to show off the series, sending out only a tightly edited tape of highlights from the first three episodes, but that was enough from which to glean a few facts.

Twelve Sheilas (that’s Aussie for girl, mate) are shuttled Down Under with no idea of what’s in store (sound familiar?). After reaching Australia, the women, ranging from 21 to 30 years old, are finally apprised of the premise and find out the first, for lack of a better word, twist: they will have to jump out an airplane to meet Jack (adventurer Vadim Dale).

Don’t worry: the girls take a tandem jump with professional skydivers.

It’s not long before we find out that the contestants are ill-suited for camping out (not surprising, given that their press-kit bios list the favorite designer of each one). The profusion of wildlife (mostly very large insects) and the lack of electrical outlets provide some light moments, but none that are laugh-out-loud funny.

The show has challenges and dates (haven’t we seen those before?), and, in a nod to Steve Irwin, even some quick lessons on the region and its animals. At the end of each episode, the not-so-average Joe — excuse me — Jack, is forced to make choices.

We weren’t allowed to see if the eliminations were accompanied with roses, snuffed out by Tiki torches, or perhaps a didgeridoo designed by Dolce & Gabbana.

The unimaginative Outback Jack has little going for it, failing to rouse as many laughs as Anna Nicole, while coming up well short of the Machiavellian intensity of Survivor. It’s also doubtful whether it can play to the level of the first Bachelor.

Outback Jack debuts June 22 at 9 p.m. and will run in that Tuesday time slot.

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