Carson Kressley

Somewhat surprisingly, the new reality/competition show "Crowned" (8 p.m., CW/Ch. 30) is not completely devoid of entertainment value.

The entertainment comes not from the women competing in the mother-daughter beauty pageant, but from one of the judges. Carson Kressley ("Queer Eye for the Straight Guy") is a hoot; the rest of the show is a snooze.

The concept is that 11 mother-daughter teams participate in "intense pageant training" while they all live in a "magnificent pageant house" and compete in various challenges to avoid the scissors in the weekly "de-sashing ceremony."

(Really. I couldn't make that stuff up no matter how hard I tried.)

As always, the ones who stand out are catty and mean. Only here can people be looked down upon because they don't have pageant experience.

At least it's mothers and adult daughters, so no children were abused in the process.

The first challenge in tonight's premiere is to make a good impression on the judges (Kressley, former Miss U.S.A. Shanna Moakler and TV host Cynthia Garrett). Before they get to the judges, several of the contestants make horrendous impressions on the viewers. Leading the way down the catty walk is Laura, who not only condescends to her mother but says of another team, "I do not think that they are very pretty. We definitely have an edge on them because of our beauty (and) our fun personalities."


And when she's waking up other people in the house with her early morning vocalizing — sort of operatic shrieking — she refuses to keep the noise down. "Well, we're going to warm up. Sorry," Laura says in as snotty a tone as possible.

Just when "Crowned" seems a lost cause, the women parade in front of the judges and things get interesting. Kressley is honest, he's funny — he's honestly funny.

Like when he says one team looks like "Amish hookers." Or opines that another is "so boring."

Or when Moakler tells the pair in which the mother is a transplant recipient, "We really want to see what's inside of you," and Kressley interjects, "Like your new kidney."

He's full of compliments as well, even if they're backhanded.

"Your outfits make my eyes bleed," he says to one team, "but I love how relaxed you are. And if you can be relaxed in those outfits, you're comfortable in your own skins."

And then there was the team that seriously miscalculated how to make a good first impression.

"We can't see your faces because of your hats," Kressley says. "All we saw was hair and sequins. I was having flashbacks to the gay pride parade in West Hollywood for a second. I was, like, 'Who are those people? Wait, is that Larry and Bob?"'

Kressley is great. "Crowned," not so much.

E-mail: [email protected]