TV Review: Game Show in My Head

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While it remains true 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 a single 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 then 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 here 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's 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 two 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 "GSIMH" 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.

Airdate: 8-9 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 3 (CBS)

Production: Fox21, Hat Trick Prods. and Katalyst Film
Executive producers: Jimmy Mulville, Leon Wilde, Ashton Kutcher, Jason Goldberg, Karey Burke, Michael Binkow
Supervising producer: Evelyn Warfel
Senior producer: Paul Hardy
Consulting producer: Michael Ferraro
Line producer: Bill Povletich
Field producer: David Franzke
Director: Bob McKinnon
Technical director: Damon Lance
Production designer: Jeff Hall
Editors: Martin Skibosh, Justin Curran, Luis Maizz, Jim Tartanella, Anthony Carbone, Paul Makkos
Music: Tony Phillips
Sound mixers: Chris Heim, Will Shipp
Casting: Michelle McNulty
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