THE SHOW "Are You Tougher Than a Boy Scout?"
WHEN | WHERE Monday night at 8 on National Geographic Channel
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WHAT IT'S ABOUT Set in California's rugged Sequoia National Forest, this reality competition series produced by Thom Beers ("Deadliest Catch") pits three Boy Scouts against three adults. A series of challenges must be met -- tug-of-war in canoes, tossing lifesaving buoys, tracking through the woods, eating worms and grubs -- that lead to a bigger challenge.
The team that loses that challenge will then lose one of its members, until only one adult, or Scout, is left standing. The adults include John, a single dad; Dan, who wants to prove to his two brothers who "Eagled" that he's just as good as they are; and Mark, a drama teacher who wants to "chase his childhood dream" of becoming a Scout. This limited-run series ends in early April.
MY SAY Despite whatever you may have heard about the Boy Scouts, "tough" is not normally the first thing that comes to mind when talking about them. SEALs are "tough." Scouts are supposed to be conscientious, diligent, respectful and resourceful. Because "Are You More Conscientious Than a Boy Scout?" doesn't exactly scream "watch this," tough will have to do.
But the point is, Monday's challenges aren't exactly tough, either (buoy tossing?), and when the tricks of the reality TV trade are slathered on -- a thumping synth score, for example, that could have been lifted from "The Amazing Race" -- then high comedy ensues. Tonight's episode very nearly turns into an episode of "The Office" with Mark -- so earnest and so joyously, unapologetically nerdy -- as Dwight. When he yells out in triumph, "I AM TOUGHER THAN A BOY SCOUT!," you will weep with laughter. Reality TV this hilarious doesn't come along every day, which makes this newcomer almost therapeutic in some sort of unintended way.
BOTTOM LINE "Tougher" may be dorky, but it's also good-natured and well meaning. Dramatic? Dear me, no.