CHICAGO – Mention the name Harry Lennix, and images of his many character roles are bound to emerge – Harold Cooper in the TV series “The Blacklist,” General Swanwick from “Batman v Superman” and Commissioner Blades from Spike Lee’s recent “Chi-Raq.” The deeply knowledgeable Lennix brings his years of dramatic expertise, as he directs the Congo Square Theatre Company’s world premiere stage play “A Small Oak Tree Runs Red.’
TV Review: FOX Brings Back Dating Game Shows with ‘Take Me Out,’ ‘The Choice’
CHICAGO – Do you miss “The Dating Game”? Long for more shows like “Baggage” in primetime? FOX has two, LONG hours for you in “Take Me Out” and “The Choice” — a pair of programs that seem designed to replicate what it’s like at a Wrigleyville bar at 1:45AM only you’re (probably) not drunk enough to find the nauseating banter and silly behavior entertaining.
TV Rating: 2.0/5.0
The night starts with “Take Me Out,” hosted by George Lopez, a bizarre hybrid of “1 vs. 100” and “The Dating Game.” A single bachelor stands in front of 30 eligible bachelorettes. The lovely ladies are at podiums with lights that can either be white (good) or red (bad). If they turn their white light off, they’re no longer interested in Mr. Right Now. They have multiple opportunities to turn off their lights, including based purely on appearance when the guy first comes out or after several videos play highlighting “talents” and personality traits. For example, what does it say about a potential date that he chooses “I’m Sexy and I Know It” as his entrance song? How about that he dresses up like a gladiator? If any girls are left after the bachelor has revealed his eccentricities, he gets to choose which one to go on a lavish vacation date with.
Take Me Out
Photo credit: FOX
George Lopez hosts “Take Me Out” and he seems fully aware how ridiculous the whole affair is but it’s not enough to justify an hour running time for something that would be much more of an entertaining diversion at half its length. Lopez throws out quips like “Let the hot dog meet the buns” when he’s introducing the bachelor contestant and that kind of ridiculous goofiness can be humorous once or twice but the show gets tired before its halfway mark and exhausting by the end.
Photo credit: FOX
There’s also just a weird, sleazy quality to “Take Me Out” in that the bachelor doesn’t actually do much. He picks a song, dances his way on stage to it, and then most of the decision-making is done while he stands there and the girls watch videos of him. One guy talks about hunting and how he likes a girl who gets “dolled up.” Lights go off. Another guy professes how he’s bringing Jersey Shore to Vegas. A dozen lights go off. And the guy stands there next to George Lopez in the dark. It’s a weird commentary on dating. Don’t actually say anything — just show me your YouTube video and then I’ll decide.
The dating process of “Take Me Out” is downright deep compared to the show that follows it, the terminally ridiculous “The Choice,” FOX’s blatant rip-off of NBC’s “The Voice,” in which four semi-celebrities vie for not the best vocalist but the best first date. Cat Deeley proves that she’s much too talented for this material, doing an amiable hosting gig as the Carson Daly of “The Choice.” Four kinda recognizable faces sit in spinning chairs with their backs turned as bachelorettes jiggle their way on stage and try to get them to pull their “love handle.”
The quartet in tonight’s season premiere includes DJ Pauly D of “Jersey Shore,” singer Romeo, actor Jason Cook of “General Hospital,” and athlete Jeremy Bloom (future contestants include Dean Cain, Tyson Beckford, Joe Jonas, and Ndamukong Suh). After picking three women in the blind auditions, the contestants go through a somewhat fascinating speed-dating round in which they have fifteen seconds to avoid elimination. It’s not unlike eavesdropping on drunken conversation after a Cubs game at Goose Island. Although I’ve never heard anything as demeaning there as “show me how you milk a cow.” At least not in a few years.
Like “Take Me Out,” “The Choice” could have possibly been a goofy diversion at half its running time but it definitely wears out its welcome at an hour. I know the core of dating game shows is watching beautiful people pair up but what’s happening here is SO superficial that it almost makes “The Dating Game” seem like true love. You might think that the blind auditions would add a layer of emotional truth but you’d be WRONG. Most of the guys seem to base whether or not they’ll turn around on the crowd response. Pauly turns around at one point just off the words “volleyball player.” All they’re trying to do is figure out if a girl is hot without looking at her. It’s really bizarre. And like a bar as closing time approaches, kind of sad.