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'Does Someone Have to Go?' review: A pain

Employees of Velocity Merchant Services (VMS) in Downers

Employees of Velocity Merchant Services (VMS) in Downers Grove, IL, are given the power to make some tough decisions at the company in the premiere episode of "Does Someone Have To Go?" airing May 23 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on Fox. Credit: Fox

THE SHOW "Does Someone Have to Go?"

WHEN | WHERE Thursday at 9 p.m. on Fox/5

WHAT IT'S ABOUT In Downers Grove, Ill., there is a company called Velocity Merchant Services, which processes credit card applications. Seventy employees. Over a million in gross revenue. Family owned and run. But also a mess. Time to get to the bottom of the problems. In this reality series, variously billed as "Lord of the Flies" meets "The Office" -- or "The Office" meets "Survivor" -- a handful of employees are empowered to fire one of their own. To stoke tempers and raise the stakes, each records observations about his or her office mates; then, their salaries are revealed to all. They vote on three slackers -- and one could be canned next week.

MY SAY Ordered years ago in the midst of the Great Recession, Fox ended up sitting on this show until now. Tweaks were made. The title changed (from "Someone's Gotta Go"). And presumably a less ruthless, more compassionate, or -- at the very least -- more legally watertight execution was developed.

But issues remain, and they're all in tone and premise. Of the latter, it's fairly self-evident that a troubled company that becomes the subject of a Fox reality show hasn't exactly made a wise or good-faith effort to resolve its problems. The real problem with this place, in other words, lies with management. The bosses are idiots. Fire one of them. The show also purposely creates a hostile workplace -- and this one was, by its own admission, hostile to begin with -- to get the co-workers in an ugly enough mood to want to fire one of their own.

Each then circles his or her own wagons; they get snappish, defensive, petty. You get the same kind of ceaseless nattering in "Survivor," but at least you have palm trees and blue water to soften the edges. Here, the bitterness plays out in drab cubicles under cold fluorescent lights. It's just painful.

Will someone get canned? The pleading nature of the title suggests that if one of the malefactors mends his or her ways, they can stay at this company -- though who knows why they'd want to.

BOTTOM LINE "Lord of the Flies"-meets-a-telephone book, and just about as entertaining.


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