These days, networks aren't considered networks until they
come up with something original or, at least, with a new version of something that
was once considered original. Game Show Network has come up with three new(er) shows: a
copy, a clip show and a clunker.
The copy is Extreme Gong, an interactive,
politically incorrect, slacker version of the 1960s The Gong Show. Host Chuck
Barris is out and comedian George Gray is in as the shepherd of a whole new flock of
Instead of celebrity judges, the wrinkle here is that you,
the viewer, can dial up to support or gong the ongoing act. With the pro and con phone
numbers across the bottom of the screen, it gives the whole affair the air of a freak-show
What kind of talent are we talking about in the 90s? Try a
female bodybuilder who does her competitive poses while singing arias (GONG!); or a guy
with his trained cat, only the cat is another guy with pigtails (GONG!); or Gaydar Man,
who deduces the sexual proclivities of audience volunteers (GONG!).
Gray's a quick wit, but this show will be far down on my
list of surfing stops.
As Seen On has its moments. The premise: Two guys
working in the GSN vaults cull their favorite moments from 40 years of game shows.
Some of the clips are pretty fun. A young David Letterman
squirms as Password host Allen Ludden sincerely gushes over him. And contestants go
brain-dead when they're called upon to answer simple questions on Family Feud,
including one guy who went through the entire prize round without scoring a single point.
Now if only they'd just edit out the two live hosts, both
of whom are deadweight.
But not as dead as the trivia show, Inquisition. On
a simple, industrial set, competitors silently punch in their answers in response to a
faceless questioner. They're setting a scene here, but it creates a show with all of the
vivacity of an SAT test. It's not much of a challenge, either it's multiple-choice.
My choice: tune out.
Extreme Gong is live Monday through Friday at 8:30
p.m.; As Seen On airs Saturdays at 5:30 p.m.; and Inquisition is seen
weekdays at 7 p.m.