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TV Series Review

Summer start-ups generate more buzz now than they did a few years ago, but the TV networks still throw lots of leftover ideas out into the hot sun to see what survives. Call it a corporate twist on a TV reality show. The ones that don’t make it are forgotten faster than Jason Alexander and Michael Richards can say "cancelled." The ones that do are destined to pop up unpredictably during the regular season (if they’re salacious enough, they’ll even appear during fall and spring sweeps weeks). Only a couple bad ideas stuck this summer (2002), one being Dog Eat Dog, NBC’s X-treme answer to Beat the Clock.

A game show with teeth, Dog Eat Dog follows modern "reality" rules to the letter: Allow contestants plenty of opportunities to make fun of each other; provide an environment in which bikinis and Speedos are all but mandatory; focus on the losers rather than the winners; make players perform bizarre stunts during which there is a great chance of seeing someone fall from a great height, get very wet, or both.

The game works like this: Six contestants vote for who they think will most likely fail each challenge. If the designated soul flops, he or she gets packed off to the "Dog Pound." If the player succeeds, one of the voters who chose him gets banished. After the field is whittled to two, a head-to-head competition decides who is Top Dog. But that’s not the end. The Top Dog must compete in a trivia game against the Dog Pound to secure a $25,000 prize.

Hosted by Baywatch alum Brooke Burns, Dog Eat Dog plays up the titillation factor by including challenges such as "strip football" and "strip golf." "Somebody has to get a hole in one or they might have to get naked!," a nude—pixelated—Burns tells her audience. Playing the football version, one female contestant does indeed strip naked while trying to toss the ball through a ring (her privates are blurred).

Banter rarely includes profanity, but sexual innuendo isn’t so scarce. When players have to do such things as guess who the real woman is among a group of cross-dressers, innuendo and jokes are the rule. A celebrity edition featuring former Survivor, Fear Factor and Temptation Island winners, as well as a Playboy Playmate edition have been the most risqué.

All that’s missing is a cockroach-eating contest.

Episodes Reviewed: June 24, July 1, 8, 15, 22, Aug. 5, 2002

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Steven Isaac

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