Like a horrible wreck, I had to take a look, even though I knew from first sight that it was going to be horrible, ugly, and — figuratively, at least — bloody. ABC’s Crash Course premiered last night and it’s the TV equivalent to having a piece of metal shoved through your frontal lobes at high velocity.
Two hosts — including the usually-palatable Orlando Jones — crack what passes for wise as five picked-for-stereotypical-behavior two-person teams (Team Married, the henpecked husband and bickering wife; Team Roommates, the over-the-top black guy and loudmouth female counterpart; Team Single Moms, two models/mothers; oh, who cares…) perform in elimination rounds of feats of driving skill near Detroit. There’s one where the drivers are towed onto a skid pad and try to stop with a designated wheel on numbers painted on the ground, Another where they try to drive up onto the back of a flatbed truck. An obstacle course. Another course where they try to knock over a series of cars that have been perched on one end.
The whole thing is just so lame and the jokes are so Henny Youngman-esque that perhaps it will find an audience for a time. I don’t know (or care) what ABC’s plans are for it, although I do see that it’s on the schedule again tonight (don’t watch it!). I have no idea if the teams are real or contrived, but they’ve certainly been encouraged to play up their individual schtick for the cameras, which only makes the show even more agonizing to watch. I mean, who would ever have guessed that the wacky, loudmouth Team Roommate guy was going to drive right into the bases of the cars standing on end and do a bunch of donuts when he was competing for $50,000?
What’s particularly sad about the whole thing is that I remember Full Metal Challenge, the short-lived UK/US venture with hosts Cathy (Junkyard Wars) Rogers and Henry (Black Flag) Rollins. The conceit of FMC wasn’t that the teams were a bunch of idiots there to be gawped at by you, another happy idiot, but that they were car enthusiasts and engineers brought together to build a vehicle and compete. Sure, the games were somewhat silly (a sumo match where cars tried to push each other out of the ring, giant bowling pin with the cars as balls, a deep-water driving course, and others) but the emphasis (as with Rogers’s other shows) was on talent and ingenuity.
That, of course, is why it only lasted one season. On The Learning Channel (which is now TLC, the channel of People Who Want to Watch People Who Have More Children Than Even Sitcoms Thought Was Funny and would never have anything like FMC on). And why Crash Course is on ABC.