TV Review: 13 -- Fear Is Real

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Beware! Beware! BEWARE! Prepare to run like the wind from any show that lists among its credits something called a "supervising scare producer," not to mention two run-of-the-mill scare producers. "13 -- Fear Is Real" is the dripping-with-irony title of a CW-staged unscripted venture that scarcely could be more fake, a collection of preposterous snapshots of 13 young people trying their best to scream rather than laugh. And to think we're nearly 10 months shy of Halloween!

Somehow, "Spider-Man" guru Sam Raimi lent his name to this dithering mess that requires its "competitors" to "face their deepest fears" -- which evidently surrounds humiliating themselves on national television -- while competing to "stay alive." As if the 12 people who won't win the grand prize of $66,666 are actually in some type of actual danger of being killed.

Is the audience now presumed this unfathomably dense? Clearly, the economy ain't the only thing to have suffered a radical downturn.

In the opening installment of this unintentionally hilarious rope-a-dope, we learn that the real people present are terrible actors, world-class vapid or both. They're said to be pitted against one another in situations culled from bad horror-movie scripts while a mock-scary voice chides them for being lame and cowardly.

We're supposed to feel their fear when they're left dangling in the dark by themselves, save for the fact we know there is least one cameraman and a sound guy -- and certainly a producer and probably a craft-services caterer or two -- hanging nearby. Not that such a gathering isn't enough to strike terror in anyone's heart, but c'mon, who among us with even the thinnest smidgen of a life would be inspired to return to the scene of this crime every week?

I have a much better idea: How about gathering 13 programming executives and forcing them to watch one another's reality pilots from the past two years? We could call it "Oy -- You Can't Be Serious!" I'd gladly fork over $19.95 on pay-per-view to watch that. I might even agree to serve as a supervising scare producer.

Airdate: 8-9 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 7 (the CW)
Production: Magic Molehill Prods. and Warner Horizon Television in association with Jay Bienstock Prods. and Ghosthouse Television
Executive producers: Jay Bienstock, Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert
Co-executive producer: Liz Schulze
Supervising producer: Sean Foley
Producers: B.D. Skope, Christian Faber, Meredith Fisher, Andi Ward, Joe Drake, Nathan Kahane
Supervising scare producer: George Sealey
Scare producers: Rob Cohen, Suzanne Keilly
Director of photography: Michael S. Dean
Production designer: Jeff Hall
Art director: James Carhart
Special effects supervisor: R. Michael Bisetti
Supervising editor: Ricky Kreitman
Music: David Vanacore Music
Casting director: Jacqueline Pitman-Albury