People who watch only nighttime TV don't know how dreadful television can truly be. And there's no reason why they should bother to find out--certainly not via "Just Men," a new game show NBC is introducing this week as part of an effort to salvage the ruins of a wildly unsuccessful daytime schedule. "Just Men" has its locally delayed premiere at 9:30 this morning on Channel 4.
Everything about it is strictly from yuck.
Although two contestants compete for a Mustang convertible, the program is billed by the opening announcer as "the most un-yew-sual talk show in television!" Then out is trotted Betty White, who hasn't been quite herself since "Password" passed on, to introduce seven semi-celebrity males whose answers to stupid questions ("Are you a grouch in the morning?") must be predicted by contestants who make their guesses on the basis of still more stupid questions ("What's the last part of your body to wake up?") prepared for them by writers.
The personalities involved represent a cross section of America--that is, the America that exists within a 50-mile radius of L.A. Contestant Gloria is "a legal secretary in Century City," she says, and Contestant Cindy is "a homemaker from Van Nuys." The male stars range from bubble-gum rock has-been Leif Garrett to the original Mister Inescapable, Dick Van Patten, who still looks as though he just swallowed Tweetie Pie.
White, a talented light comedian, is terribly demeaned by this role, which has her hobbling about from man to man as they utter answers or remarks that are supposedly uproarious. The timing is a trifle odd. White tells Tim Reid, formerly of "WKRP in Cincinnati," that "You're on 'Teacher's Only,' and I just love you on that." Fine, except that the program hasn't been on the air yet.
Asked how he's doing with his "lady" on the soap opera "Days of Our Lives," John Taylor replies, "I'm doing fine. I just deflowered her." That's good for a roar. The questions written for Reid seem racially stereotyped and insulting. He is asked, "Tim, is your mother a swinger?" and "Tim, is your mother more into boogie, bingo or bowling?" Even the gang at SCTV would have a hard time parodying anything this self-destructive.
"Just Men," which was created by Rick Rosner (who filled the same role for "CHiPs") is the litmus test for people who think the TV show that can make them physically ill hasn't been invented.