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Fighting Nausea: Checking out the Pussycat Dolls

You can't watch great (or even good) TV all the time. Sometimes you have to watch things just so you can experience firsthand how truly awful they are. Yes, I am talking about The Pussycat Dolls Present the Search for the Next Doll.

Many of you wrote me to ask if I had lost my mind when I mentioned I would be watching the series' premiere episode last night. But the fact is that, if the CW was going to do something as heinous as pulling Veronica Mars off the air (the only series they have left with any semblance of critical traction), then I might as well tune in to the garbage with which they replaced the show.

And I'll not mince words: it is truly dreck of the lowest level. It might be executive produced by Ken Mok, one of the EPs on America's Next Top Model, but Search for the Next Doll makes that show look like a Oscar-caliber production by comparison. While ANTM focuses on the girls as they transform into runway models, presenting them with photo shoot challenges, makeovers, and lessons in walking, Search for the Next Doll tries to present itself as "female empowerment," as though the whorishness of the contestants, their criminally slutty outfits, and lack of talent would somehow empower women in the audience.

I was lucky enough to be at the TCA in January when Mok and others defended this point to the derision of the assembled TV critics, who couldn't help themselves but roar with laughter, especially when one critic pointed out that his young daughter thought the show had set the women's movement back several decades. Whatever this show is (putting aside the musical group itself), it has zero to do with female empowerment. (If you're looking for that, I suggest downloading some Veronica Mars episodes from iTunes or, hell, catching Tyra's latest performance on ANTM.)

The show in a flash: 18 wannabes are selected from "tens of thousands" of applicants and given the chance to rehearse and audition for Pussycat Dolls "creator" Robin Antin, who will choose 9 girls to live in a house (surprise!) and duke it out for a spot on the musical group. They're split into three teams, each given a Pussycat Dolls song and dance routine to perfect, and then expected to perform the routine on stage in front of Robin and the other judges (whose names I seriously cannot bother to look up). Somehow, nearly 3/4 of the girls end up with a nasty flu bug and the show takes particular pleasure in showing them (repeatedly) vomiting: in the bathroom, in the bushes, in a plastic bag on a van. It's disgusting and adds nothing to an already tedious show; if this is the most exciting footage they could assemble, that is one very sad fact.

Some of the girls are talented dancers, some are beautiful, and some can sing. They all attempt to do their best while others of their group lay off to the side, hooked up to IVs, awaiting their turn to perform in front of Robin. The performances? Meh. Certainly nothing special, though judging from the constant clips of the actual Pussycat Dolls performing "Buttons" and the like I can't say there's much to compare it to. Plus, if I have to hear "Don't Cha" one more time, I think I may rip my ears off.

Ultimately, The Search for the Next Doll is sleazy, demeaning, and leaves a bad taste in one's mouth. If this is the new face of the CW, you can tell Dawn Ostroff I said thank you but hell no.

What's On Tonight

8 pm: Jericho (CBS); Dateline (NBC); America's Next Top Model (CW); George Lopez/According to Jim (ABC); American Idol (FOX); Countdown to Battleground (MyNet)

9 pm: Criminal Minds (CBS); Crossing Jordan (ABC); Pussycat Dolls Present: The Search for the Next Doll (CW); According to Jim/In Case of Emergency (ABC); The Wedding Bells (FOX); Anna Nicole Smith: A Centerfold Exposed (MyNet)

10 pm: CSI: New York (CBS); Medium (NBC); Lost (ABC)

What I'll Be Watching

8 pm: America's Next Top Model.

On tonight's episode ("The Girl Who Cries All the Time"), it's makeover time (already?) as Tyra and some celeb stylists make over the remaining girls, but it's a call from home and a nude, candy-coated photo shoot that makes the models tearier than usual.

8-10 pm: American Idol.

Tonight, it's the ladies' turn to perform as the top 8 female contestants take the stage.

10 pm: Lost.

I can't tell you how happy I am that Lost is back on the air again. On tonight's episode ("Enter 77"): Locke, Sayid and Kate encounter Patchy McPatches from that surveillance camera in the Pearl (and who may just have a connection to Sayid's past); Locke still likes to push buttons; Sawyer tries to get his stolen possessions back by competing in a ping pong competition. As one does.


The CineManiac said…
Thanks for the review. Now I know I can delete this off the TiVo without wasting my time.
I too thought I watched what they replaced my beloved Veronica Mars with, but from the sound of it it's somehow worse than I thought it could be.
The only thing that will help me make it to may when VM returns is knowing I will have the chance to met VM herself, Kristen Bell, in a little over a week at Wizard World LA.
Anonymous said…
I saw the Pussycat Dolls show in Vegas and really enjoyed their act. It was filled with music, dancing, and half-naked girls but also with a sense of playfulness and humor inherent in all good cabaret. But now I feel like they're transforming from a saucy burlesque act into the Spice Girls or something equally as horrible and this show only confirms it.
TxGowan said…
"But the fact is that, if the CW was going to do something as heinous as pulling Veronica Mars off the air (the only series they have left with any semblance of critical traction), then I might as well tune in to the garbage with which they replaced the show." - This is so very wrong. You should know it's wrong. By watching what they replaced VM with, you have told The Powers That Be that you want more programming like this INSTEAD of VM. IS THAT WHAT YOU WANT? I thought not.
Jace Lacob said…

The fact of the matter is that I sometimes have to tune in to series that I would never, ever watch just so I can understand just how very bad they are. It's not something I like to do, but from time to time it is a necessity. Know they enemy and all that.

That aside, I have a feeling that there was a lot of curiosity about this series from the general public and that, having sated their curiosity, there will be a sizeable drop off next week. (One hopes anyway.)

If there is a dropoff (especially a large one), it will show the CW that the audience isn't there for the Pussycat Dolls and their ilk.

I love Veronica Mars and would never do anything to hurt the show, but unfortunately sampling is a sign of our times and can't be helped... especially if you want to bash Pussycat Dolls from an informed standpoint. I could rail against the show all I wanted but if I never actually watched part of it (and I only did so via TiVo), I don't think I could do so with any conviction or authority.

I've been a huge supporter of Veronica Mars and will continue to support this brilliant series while keeping my fingers crossed for a fourth season.
The CineManiac said…
Why God Why?!?!
Jace I hope you're right because if the ratings from last night continue, VM may just be screwed, at least if this is to believed.

"The debut of Pussycat Dolls Present: The Search for the Next Doll lifted the 9 p.m. hour to an improved 3.2/ 5 in the overnights, with full retention out of lead-in Gilmore Girls (3.2/ 5). Compared to the week-ago metered market performance for recent occupant Veronica Mars (1.8/ 3 on Feb. 27), that was an increase of a hefty 78 percent. Pussycat Dolls also built by 10 percent in the second half-hour (3.1/ 5 to 3.4/ 5)"

I guess the main problem is the have now started counting same day DVR viewings in the ratings, which means for crap shows like this that need to be seen to be believed and to trash from an educated standpoint we need to wait at least until the next day to watch and discuss.
I understand where you come from, as much as I tried and said I was going to delete it I had to see how awful it truly was for myself.

But if these ratings do continue (God Forbid) what do you think this will mean for Veronica Mars?
Anonymous said…
Those girls has noself respect and never have a normal life cause no one respects them and skanly woman like that needs prayer and a change around, sick world we live in, please change ur ways form skank to dress classie not trashy

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