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Bret Michaels: Life as I Know It -- TV Review

Bret Michaels: Life as I Know It

The Bottom Line

A rock ’n’ roller hits the road again, this time with a seat belt applied.

Premieres

Oct. 18, 10 p.m. (VH1)

Starring

Bret Michaels
Kristi Gibson
Raine Michaels
Jorja Bleu Michaels

Created by

Bret Michaels

Rock ’n’ roll is absurd, exciting and hyper-real — all ingredients for a fascinating reality TV series, as Bret Michaels (former frontman for Poison) proved with his “Rock of Love” competition shows.

And the plan for VH1’s new “Bret Michaels: Life as I Know It” was that cameras would follow him as he tries to be a better dad to his young girls and a better boyfriend to his long-time girlfriend and baby mama Kristi.

But Michaels suffered a life-threatening brain hemorrhage right as cameras began to roll, putting the series on hold. He recovered, as most everyone knows, and grew his audience with a winning turn on NBC’s “The Celebrity Apprentice.” But with his health still in play (he’s also a lifelong diabetic), “Life” becomes a very different type of reality series. Every mundane gesture he makes — to say nothing of his leaping onstage to belt out the 8 millionth rendition of “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” — can be seen in a new light. Can reality TV actually transcend peeping Tom trash and evolve into genuine art?

OK, let’s not get in over our heads. Michaels is a genuinely charismatic presence, likable even for nonfans of his music. Watching him interact with his mom, who drops by on tour, is a hoot; you’d have to be a stone not to feel for his youngest as she stands nose-to-glass watching him walk down the driveway to hit the road again; and his boneheaded generosity — who invites 20 roadies home for breakfast? — is sincere and warmly hilarious. But without Michaels onscreen, the light on “Life” dims enough to turn it into an ordinary, plain brown wrapper. Put it this way: On her own, Kristi is no Sharon Osbourne.

Still, “Life” is a cut above the rest because Michaels is facing major health issues every day. It might be that a near-death experience isn’t enough to totally slow him down, but watching him try to apply the brakes while simultaneously revving his engine is a reality worth tuning into.