Wanna Bet?

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Airdate: 9-10 p.m.

Mon., July 21

ABC

LOS ANGELES -- Wanna bet that after watching one episode of this new ABC hourlong game show you're gonna feel just a little bit dumber than before -- or dumberer, even?

"Wanna Bet?," which has its heart in the right place (having celebs -- well, sort of celebs -- bet big bucks for their favorite charity), is mindless, "if-you-must-see" television. Although it's got predecessors of a sort (think "What's My Line" mixed with David Letterman's stupid pet or human tricks), it's the kind of show that, after an hour's viewing, gives you that hollow feeling in the pit of your stomach. Ya know, the kind that's getting all too familiar these days?

British comedy sensations (we'll take their word for it) Anthony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly, who call themselves Ant and Dec, are on hand as hosts. They stand by, make jokes (kinda stupid ones) and generally move things along for the duration of these fun and games. The object of the show: To get a panel of celebrities (you also can qualify if you used to be a celeb once) and have them bet a large amount of money on whether a contestant can succeed or fail at the stunt they choose to perform.

The four-person panel for the premiere episode includes George Takei (as in "Star Trek), "The View" co-host Sherri Shepherd and comedians Tom Green and Harland Williams. They seem like nice, normal folk, nothing like the contestants who show up: For instance, a man who claims he can identify any CD just by licking it (blindfolded, of course) and a team of muscle men who bet they can move a load of sofas from one spot to another in a tiny span of time. Then there's the contestant who claims he can keep a hula hoop up around his hips for 45 seconds. No problem, even if the hoop happens to be a huge truck tire.

Enough about the stupid tricks. The show is loud, over-the-top colorful and in general noisy enough to keep you awake for its one-hour airtime. There is plenty of room for what seem like an endless stream of commercials. It's the kind of structure where just when you think you're going to find out what's coming next, or know the results of the latest betting session among the panelists, you get the familiar "We'll find out when we get back in just a moment." Well, it does kill time.

Speaking of which: You wouldn't think that in that span of time only four or so contestants show up. But then, we need the rest of the time for celeb panel banter and, of course, clever quips from the talky and generally chirpy co-hosts.

Production: The Gurin Co.
Executive producers: Phil Gurin, Marc Jansen. Director: Glen Weiss. Hosts: Ant & Dec (Anthony McPartlin, Declan Donnelly).
Episode 1 panel: Sherry Shepherd, Harland Williams, George Takei, Tom Green


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