Tuesday, June 24, 2008

'Celebrity Family Feud' is a waste of space

While "The Feud" has a real if modest place in game-show history. Maybe it should consider staying there.

This new edition, featuring celebrity-led families and hosted by Al Roker, does its best to stay lively and a little bit naughty.

But there just isn't all that much going on.

For one thing, the guests feel recycled. Because they are. Well over half have done "reality" shows recently, and while it's probably easier for producers to use performers who know how TV works, there's a point at which we simply don't need to see Wayne Newton, Vincent Pastore or Deion Sanders again.


For those just tuning in, "Family Feud" works like this. The show's staff has asked 100 random people to answer an amusing question like "What would you most not want to see your father wearing?" or to finish a phrase like "Holy (blank)."

Two teams of contestants then try to guess what those respondents said, and that's where the fun is penciled in. Did most people say "Holy Bible" or "Holy smokes"? Or was it a third option that Melissa Rivers suggests?

Like many venerable TV games, "The Feud" lets viewers shout out the answers. But even that, and even the adrenaline that starts to pump when the celebrity family shoots for a possible $50,000, isn't enough to make the show much more than a way to kill a spare half-hour.

What doesn't help, curiously, is the "celebrity team" concept, because it means we get one or maybe two celebrities and then their spouses, parents, children, siblings or friends.

So most of the guesses come from people we've never heard of, which kills much of the show's promised celebrity spark.

For the record, the two matchups tonight are the Ice-T family and Joan Rivers' family, then the Raven-Symoné family versus Newton's family.

For the further record, several members of each family will not be applying for Mensa membership anytime soon.

True, it's not easy to focus on even simple, common-sense matters while TV cameras are in your face, and true also, hearing stupid answers is part of the fun.

But it's not a promising sign when a show sometimes feels like it has been revived in part to keep a few dozen underemployed celebrities off the streets.

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