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The Man Shows

First off, I've got nothing against transvestites finding gainful employment in the TV industry. It's a big world, people, and there's room for all of us. All I'm asking is that the networks to be up front with the viewing public.

I mean, do the geniuses at NBC really expect us to believe that host Anne Robinson of their new British import game show, The Weakest Link, is a woman? I'm sorry, but this English muffin comes with a side order of sausage just as sure as TeeVee is your leading source of television news. Yep.

Those scheming network weasels must have something up their sleeve (or pant leg, if you will), like springing the painfully obvious news on viewers during May sweeps in hopes of reversing waning interest. There has to be some reason for keeping this steaming tower of crap on the air until then, because after last week's inexplicably high-rated blitz of premiere episodes, there's nowhere for this irritating Who Wants to Be a Millionaire knock-off to go but straight to hell or back to England. You can decide for yourself which destination is worse, but one has infinitely better food.

It's common knowledge that a hard man is good to find, but who walked into the London drag show and picked out this half-assed Sally Jesse Raphael impersonator to host The Weakest Link? Even more perplexing, why did NBC decide to keep Anne (actually -- world exclusive! -- Arnie Robinson of Liverpool) in lieu of hiring Survivor publicity 'ho Richard Hatch, who auditioned for the Yankee version? Sure, he's an insufferable grease stain, but at least we know what he's packin'. As the saying goes, the enemy you know is better than the strapped-down he-bitch in sensible shoes.

If you've had the good sense to avoid watching The Weakest Link, here's what you've been missing: Eight contestants in a circle on what looks to be a leftover set from the porn version of Star Trek, answering quickly-dispensed trivia questions posed icily by "Anne." They range from sorta-tough ("In the New Testament, who is called 'the beloved physician'?") to dead-dumb ("In the song, what were Frosty the Snowman's eyes made of?") to just plain creepy ("For extra points, who wants to rinse out my panty hose?"). The quiz kids work as a team, but vote out the member who under-performs at the end of each round, who then takes the Walk of Shame as Anne spits her catch phrase, "You are the weakest link--goodbye," at them. The worst is yet to come, as the ejected losers are then shuttled off to the nearby Family Feud studios to wax she-male game-show host Louie (Louise) Anderson's back. How's that for incentive to win?

To be fair, the British don't have an exclusive lock on game shows hosted by cross-dressing men--we've got The Test (FX, weeknights), hosted by Jillian (Jonathan) Barberie. On the upside, The Test replaces the idiotic X Show, a drooling testosterone-fest that made The Man Show look like Christopher Lowell. On the downside, all of the X Show's players apparently weren't taken out back of the FX studios and each given their well-earned .44-caliber severance package to the base of the skull, because here's Jillian, hosting his own brand-new show.

Less convincing as a woman than Anne, Jillian nonetheless has viewers of Los Angeles' Good Day L.A. and Fox NFL Sunday snowed, not to mention all those ex-X Show devotees. So what if his hipless, chestless body and Charlie's Angels hair make him look like the singer of a Black Crowes tribute band? To legions of unemployed frat boys sucking down MGD and defiling Maxims on a school night, Jillian is a street-smart goddess with a husky voice and a great set of lips. Hey, I'm not judging--I think he's kinda hot, too.

Even though The Test is really just a music-free clone of VH1's The List, it's still oddly watchable pop culture in motion. Plus, instead of revolving celebrity guest hosts, you get Jillian every night, which means in no work for Meat Loaf this month. Celebrity guests of the C-list variety, like Tom Arnold and Carmen Electra, respond to questions regarding morality, sex and greed--which is kind of pointless, because if they were any good at any of them, they would at least have made the B-list and been invited to Politically Incorrect.

Viewers at home are invited to get interactive through the show's website and check how their own answers stack up against those of soulless showbiz parasites. "Marcia Clark wouldn't steal cable? That's cool and all, but there's no way I'm actually paying for FX, dude."


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