There might be a bigger waste of time on television than the USA Network's new "Happy Hour" . . . but, then again, there might not.
Give this one a triple-A rating -- for Awful, Amateurish and just plain Agonizing."What we're trying to do with 'Happy Hour' is, we're trying to make a party that literally everybody can be invited to," said executive producer Howard Schultz -- the man behind the late, unlamented game-show sleaze-fest "Studs." "My hope is that people will be sitting in Dubuque, Iowa, with their beer in hand singing along with us, in on the joke and the fun we're having."
Well, being drunk might make this show more enjoyable at that.
Part game show, part variety show, part celebrity chat, "Happy Hour" is all dumb. Real dumb.
Hosted by brothers Dweezil and Ahmet Zappa, the show is definitely loud and raucous. In addition to the hosts, there are 10 celebrity (sort of) guests, a house band, a musical guest and 10 "very naughty girls" -- the Bombshells, a group of women who dress in tacky/skimpy attire and gyrate around the set in time to the music.
(Well, mostly in time to the music, anyway.)
Saturday's premiere (7 p.m., USA) opens with Ahmet Zappa singing "Jailhouse Rock" (although calling what he does "singing" may be stretching the definition a bit) while the Bombshells dance. And -- oddly enough -- the words to the song are displayed on the bottom of the screen.
The musical subtitles, which appear during every song, are supposed to make it easier for us to sing along at home.
"I tried to make it as funny as possible and as entertaining as possible," Ahmet Zappa said.
And, sadly enough, he no doubt did try his best. His best is just nowhere in the vicinity of anything entertaining.
Dweezil at least displays some talent on the guitar. Ahmet displays no discirnable talent whatsoever.
If this guy weren't the son of the late Frank Zappa, it's doubtful anyone would have ever heard of him. (Judging by "Happy Hour," you could probably say the same thing about Dweezil.)
After their opening number, the Zappa brothers sit behind a desk and start the game-show portion of their program. It's male celebrities vs. female celebrities in a variety of odd contests.
And calling this group celebrities is being charitable. It's a panel of second-tier celebrities at best -- a few of whom are actually working and many of whom are sort of fringe stars/has-beens.
"Whoever we can book on the show," Dweezil said, coming close to what appears to be the truth.
(The 10 guests in Saturday's episode are Park Overall, Georgette Mosbacher, Jodi Lyn O'Keefe, Lark Voorhies, Karen McDougal, Wallace Langham, Carlos Alazraqui, Garrett Morris, Shaun Palmer and Danny Masterson. Be extremely worried about yourself if you can identify more than half of them -- seek professional help if you can identify all of them.)
The games range from identifying the insides of candy bars to singing contests to pitting a Playboy centerfold against one of her obsessed fans in a trivia contest about her life.
"It's an excuse to have an opportunity to learn things about the celebrity guests," Dweezil said. "We're going to ask them questions about things that they might not necessarily normally get asked."
Yes, just try to imagine the enormous thrill when we learn that Morris used to be a chicken plucker. Or that Overall used to be a librarian.
Talk about your excitement on a Saturday night.
Oh, the show is not all utterly dreadful. Musical guest Tonic does fine -- although those musical subtitles are sure annoying.
But, for all the noise and commotion going on, there isn't much happiness. The studio audience certainly does plenty of hootin' and hollerin' in an attempt to get themselves on TV, but nothing about USA's "Happy Hour" seems genuine.
It's forced fun, which, of course, isn't fun at all.
"Someday soon, people will worship the 'Happy Hour,' " Dweezil says.
With any luck, perhaps it will be offered up to the gods of television -- as a burned sacrifice.
SLOC CONNECTION: This past week, "The Late Show with David Letterman's" Top Ten list included the Top Ten Signs Your Prize Fight Is Fixed -- and pay particular attention to No. 8:
10. Nickname on your robe: "The Mafia Puppet"
9. Between rounds, HBO airs commercials for the rematch.
8. Fight is sanctioned by the Salt Lake City Olympic committee.
7. You recognize the judges as guys who count ballots at Teamsters elections.
6. The white guy wins.
5. Ref tells your opponent, "I wanna see a lot of punches below the belt."
4. Between rounds, someone keeps slipping you Quaker non-violence pamphlets.
3. During end credits you see: "Fight choreographed by Debbie Allen.
2. Every time you start doing well, the ref stops fight to look for his lost contact lens.
1. Odds are on Dame Judi Dench to win in the 3rd.