The new CBS reality series, "Armed & Famous" (8 tonight and Thursday, WIVB-TV), advises viewers that they're going to see real celebrities, real crime and real cops.
Unfortunately, it is real boring. It may be as boring as life in Muncie, Ind., the area of 67,000 people that apparently considers this show good publicity.
We're not talking A-list celebrities here playing in a reality show version of Fox's "COPS." To be perfectly honest, I only heard of three of the five celebs who go to the Police Academy to learn the correct way to handle a traffic stop, shoot a gun and deal with people under the influence.
For the record, "Famous" stars Erik Estrada, LaToya Jackson, Jack Osbourne, a female wrestling star, Trish Stratus, and an actor from the "Jackass" movie, Jason "Wee-Man" Acuna.
The show gets some mileage out of Estrada's former life as a star of the law-enforcement series, "CHiPS," Osbourne's past problems and Jackson's famous family and her unfamiliarity with a Laundromat.
Produced by Tom Forman (ABC's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition"), the show tries to make the marginal celebs look good, heroic and brave enough to endure being jolted by a taser. There are attempts to personalize them and to root for them as they surprise the tough, no-nonsense, critical chief trying to train them and the partners they are teamed with.
But let's be honest here. The idea of having a no-nonsense guy in charge of a show that is essentially totally nonsense defines contrived.
I know. One shouldn't take this show any more seriously than the reality shows that featured celebrities dancing, singing, losing weight and ice skating. The biggest crime of "Armed & Famous" is that it is so dull and lifeless. I'd rather spend a month in Muncie or be tasered than watch another episode.
Of course, CBS has been making a living off of a crime for years. With all of the "CSIs" and other crime series on the air, the C should stand for the Crime Broadcasting System. If this crime show works, heaven help us all. Rating: 1 star
It certainly would be a crime if the premiere of "Armed & Famous" out-rates tonight's episode of "Friday Night Lights," the NBC family series about life in a Texas town that seems to live for its Friday night football games.
Last week, the first episode in its new 8 p.m. Wednesday time slot, was another spectacular, emotional one that showcased the incredible cast playing believable teen-agers in crisis. The subject matter, especially scenes dealing with teen-age sex, may be a little too mature for 8 p.m. at times. But this is one series that values family and friendship as much as the town values football. It is rare I can watch an episode without being moved.
It appeared to have a small spike in the local ratings last week, but it needs more viewers and certainly deserves your cheers.
The premieres of ABC's new Wednesday night comedies, "The Knights of Prosperity" and "In Case of Emergency," didn't set the house on fire locally, either. But ABC seemed pleased with the national results. The network also repeated the premieres on Friday, though the repeat episodes didn't even hit a 2 rating in Western New York.
"Armed & Famous"
Review: One star (out of four)
8 tonight and Thursday on WIVB-TV.