THE SHOW “Love Connection”
WHEN|WHERE Premieres Thursday at 9:01 p.m. on Fox/5
WHAT IT’S ABOUT This one-hour revival, hosted by Andy Cohen, features roughly the same format as the original, with a male or female contestant going on a blind date with one of three people he or she had to choose from, then reporting back on the results. On a 1-to-10 scale, he or she then rates the date, while the other three rate the contestant as well. The audience then votes on which of the three will be picked for the next date, and if they guess right, the contestant gets $10,000. If not, the contestant has a choice to make.
MY SAY Like “Match Game,” “$100,000 Pyramid,” “The Gong Show” and any of other recently reanimated game show corpses from the last century, no one has been waiting around for the “Love Connection” revival, either. The original was gone by the mid-’90s, host Chuck Woolery went on to become a conservative pundit, and some 20,000 contestants are now collectively wondering, what was I thinking? (although Woolery did say in an interview just before cancellation that the show launched 29 marriages. So . . . ) Apps now fulfill the same role that “Love Connection” once did. Swipe left or swipe right. Best of all, there’s no plum-voiced host to moderate the decision. But this corpse comes with a secret weapon and a twist. The twist you already know about: If the audience guesses right, then the contestant gets to keep $10,000 — and if they don’t, the contestant gets to make a choice (take the money or ditch the one he or she picked).
It’s the secret weapon that counts here — and by the way, nowhere has it ever been written that Andy Cohen is either secret or weaponized. He is, however, the Genghis Khan of dead air — that uncomfortable silent pause when no one talks because there’s nothing left to talk about. Cohen abhors such vacuums, and slays them before they even get a chance to bud. During a couple dozen guest appearances on Kelly Ripa’s “Live,” he nearly outtalked Ripa and easily matched her in unbridled enthusiasm. With gusto, brio and a boundless ability to navigate that which would annihilate a lesser talent — his own talk show “Watch What Happens Live” as the vertiginous proof — he overwhelms your TV screen before it knows what hit it.
In plain speak, friends, Cohen is TV’s very own work of nature. If he didn’t exist, it would have to invent him. That’s how perfectly both are matched, or at least matched for a highly specific form of programming.
Could “Love Connection” be that form? Woolery was cool and almost diffident; you suspected he almost knew the whole thing was a farce. There’s certainly nothing diffident about Cohen: He booms with conviction, and piles on the Velveeta. For example, one of the women the first contestant, Robert Bacon, took on a date observes that his humor “is a little cheesy.” Andy bounces right back with: “Are you saying he’s a little hammy?” If any other host had said that, you’d assault your helpless TV set. Because it’s Cohen, you smile. “Oh, hammy. I get it. Nyuk, nyuk.”
Can even Andy Cohen revive a narcoleptic show from the last century? Will Fox have a summer hit? Will true love be found on “Love Connection”?
Cosmic questions — certainly — but I do have my doubts.
BOTTOM LINE Amusing and harmless, but even Andy Cohen can’t raise the dead.