'Game Show in My Head'

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While it remains true that there is nothing new under the sun — in this case, quite literally — the new CBS series "Game Show in My Head" happens to be legitimately entertaining and a kick to watch.

Adapted from a British format and executive produced along with five others by none other than Ashton Kutcher, the show uses its hidden-camera gambit for good rather than evil. The unsuspecting saps caught on video aren't played for stooges but simply random faces in the ether. And the conceit is relatively original: Take an extroverted contestant with an earpiece responding to the competitive marching orders of a high-energy host (in this case, Joe Rogan of "Fear Factor" fame) while a studio audience reacts to the live scene unfolding someplace close by.

The player wins $5,000 for each of five completed tasks and has the chance to double it in a "bonus round," for a maximum total of 50 grand. Not exactly enough to retire on, but hey, every little bit helps in an age when we sit Depression- adjacent.

The challenges, without exception, leave you feeling the competitor's discomfort. The first, a personal trainer from Salt Lake City, is forced to do things like persuade a family she has never met to allow her to take pictures with them that include a group hug and a kiss from the husband. The final task is a doozy: Talk a guy into putting on a tux and marrying her on the spot, complete with his own instantly constructed marital vows — all within 10 minutes. (Moral: Some guys will do absolutely anything to lock lips with a pretty girl.)

In the second of back-to-back premiere installments, the contestant has to approach a random dude on the street and ask him to come back to his place "just to hang."

It's actually very funny stuff that finds nobody getting hurt or truly humiliated. Can a game/reality show without a mean spirit possibly succeed? CBS probably doesn't think so, burying "Head" in the death slot of Saturday nights at 8. But the network really ought to give this clever concept a second look before burning it off so dismissively.
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