Saturday, September 10, 2005

TV: Celebrity Poker Showdown

I'm always happy to see Bravo's Celebrity Poker Showdown return, but so far this season, there have been a lot of moments where it's been difficult to watch.

First the good things: I like that a beer company is the new sponsor for the prize money. A previous sponsor actually dropped the show because of the enthusiastic alcohol consumption by some of the players. It's poker, for Christ's sake! It's poker in Las frickin' Vegas!! If you're gonna get squeamish over someone ordering a cocktail... well, that just does not show a great deal of foresight on the part of the sponsor.

And I've been happy to see a number of the players, as I always am. Peter Dinklage was in game two; he was the star of the very first movie I ever reviewed on this site, the wonderful The Station Agent (and by the way, if you haven't seen that movie, I don't think we can be friends anymore). Ricki Lake was in game three, and I don't care what you say, she's as cute as a button. I wouldn't watch her show on a dare -- but she's cute as a button. And the show I'm watching tonight, game four, has one of the most pleasing assemblages of celebrities they've ever gotten together -- Anthony Anderson, Cheryl Hines, Michael Vartan, Amber Tamblyn, and Alex Trebek. I'm not saying they're all my very favorite stars in the world, but: I'm positively predisposed toward them all; they all basically know how to play, so they're not having those obnoxious "I don't know the difference between a call, a raise, a check, or a fold, aren't I adorably stupid?" moments that can crop up on this show; Amber Tamblyn is playing for the Ojai Foundation, which holds retreats "nestled in a rustic, village-like setting," i.e. my hometown; and did I mention -- Alex freakin' Trebek!!

Those are the good ones. But the bad ones -- oy. Bad celebrities have been the bane of this season. They've been plentiful, and they've been enough to nearly ruin entire episodes. Take Meat Loaf -- please! HA! No, seriously, take him. He's awful. He's one of those guys who not only thinks he's funny when he actually isn't, but thinks he's so much funnier than everyone else that he has to make every "witticism" loud enough to drown out all other voices. Because in comparison to him, they couldn't possibly be worth hearing!

That was game two. In game three, there was Caroline Rhea, who was one of those dummies I mentioned above, who didn't bother to learn one single thing about the game of poker before signing up to play it on TV. "I check! What do you mean I can't check? Can I raise? Okay, I raise, so let me put in not enough money to match the previous bet, let alone a raise. What do you mean I can't do that? Wait, how much is this purple chip? It's pretty. Oh, I fold. But only after mugging over my cards for five minutes. I'm folding Aces! Not really! But it sure is funny every single time I say it!!" Ugh. What a chore.

And then there was the first game of the season, which was not only the very worst episode of Celebrity Poker Showdown, it may actually have been the worst anything ever. It was their "Reality Star" episode, featuring such luminaries as Johnny Fairplay, Omarosa, Andrew Firestone (aka "that asshole from The Bachelor"), and Trishelle (aka "that whore from The Real World"). If you don't know these people, count yourself lucky. They're horrible, horrible people. Every one of them. I literally could not watch it. I tried, but it burned. Oh, how it burned. I had to delete it from my TiVo after maybe five minutes of watching those horrible, horrible, horrible people. Even hosts Phil Gordon and Dave Foley barely disguised their contempt for these wretches.

And next week: Rosie O'Donnell and Penny Marshall. Sweet merciful crap! I give up on this season!!

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