Dating in the Dark -- TV Review

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Is it possible to be enamored of a TV show concept but uninspired by its execution? That's the sentiment after watching the pilot episode of ABC's latest attempt to pair up young, straight, white folks in "Dating in the Dark."

Proposing to answer the question, is love blind? "Dating" puts three men and three women into different wings of the same mansion and over the course of several days allows them to meet only in a completely dark room (infrared cameras capture the action). There, the only way participants know what one another looks like is through verbal description and a little face-touching. Notes one woman, "They're not looking at your boobs; they have to listen to you!"

Which makes this more of a challenge for the menfolk than the women, though everyone is equally shallow (no one ever says, "It doesn't matter what he/she looks like, I like them anyway").

An initial dark group meeting is followed by a series of one-on-ones initiated by participants, and soon the six are three pairs. But the lack of visual input means things turn nonphysically intimate quickly -- after just one or two visits, both men and women are trading sentimental keepsakes.

Darkroom aside, it's all very ... normal. "Dark" is an interesting idea with a refreshing lack of bombast and fakery that propels so many reality shows: The participants are clean-cut, pleasantly attractive regular folks (though one has a Jude Law aura). But sadly, without the catfights, the gaming of the process or copious alcohol, what "Dark" proves is that real life is kinda dull. Even the episode's ending is somewhat anti-climactic (paging rejected guy: Give me a call; that gal was crazy).

That said, the show is best seen as an excellent infomercial for a new dating service. Heck, should ABC decide to open a private "Dark" facility near me, I'd give it a whirl. It couldn't possibly produce worse results than bars or Internet setups. As the pilot proves, nothing's foolproof in the pursuit of happiness, but sometimes turning out the lights helps people see that much more clearly.

Airdate: 10-11 p.m. Monday, July 20 (ABC)
Production: Endemol USA, Talpa Content
Host: Rossi Morreale
Executive producers: Tom Shelly
Co-executive producer: Richard Devinki
Supervising producers: David Pritikin, Karen Ripenburg, Johnny Petillo
Director of photography: Jim Harrington
Production designer: Jeff Hall
Casting: Katy Wallin-Sandalis
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