America's Psychic Challenge
Empty10 p.m. Friday, Oct. 12
For those who suspect that most psychics are frauds, Lifetime's "America's Psychic Challenge" promises to do little to disabuse you of that belief.
In this challenge, executive produced by Jon Murray for Bunim-Murray Prods., 16 self-professed psychics compete to see who's the best. In the premiere, the first four are put to the test in three separate events. The two with the lowest scores are eliminated. Eventually, one of the 16 will win the grand prize of $100,000.
The show is hosted by John Burke of "E! News Daily," who does an admirable job of playing it straight. In one event, he has the four contestants guess facts about a celebrity behind a wall (Lifetime's own medium, Lisa Williams -- ka-ching!). One divines that the celebrity "can be a little demanding" and is "working on a book." And, incredibly, this is the contestant who scores highest for the exercise.
In the third event, the four are taken to a house in a working-class neighborhood of Oxnard, Calif., where a young man was shot and killed after arguing with gang members in a car. Told only that this is a crime scene, they are asked to guess what happened. "I keep getting a gun," says one. "There was a confrontation," suggests another. All in all, it's a staggering display of intuition.
During all of this, Murray mixes in grainy black-and-white video to suggest the presence of spirits and auras. It's a gimmick, of course, but it keeps the contestants from looking as silly as their answers might suggest.