Nobody seems to know, but celebrity 'Mole' is fun
By Kevin D. Thompson, Palm Beach Post TV Critic
Monday, January 6, 2003
The Mole is the Rodney Dangerfield of reality shows.
It gets no respect.
Survivor, while not as popular as it once was, still generates considerable watercooler buzz. Over 18 million viewers watched the first edition of The Bachelor. MTV's Real World has been on the air for, like, 35 years. Fear Factor continues to capture a sizable audience, as does The Amazing Race.
No one, it seems, cares about The Mole -- not even its own network. ABC yanked it after only two episodes the last time around.
ABC's engaging and clever reality series deserves more respect -- and viewers. Let's hope it'll get both when Celebrity Mole Hawaii debuts Wednesday (10 p.m., ABC).
While CBS has kicked around the idea of airing a celebrity Survivor installment for months, ABC beat them to it. Six out-of-work, C-list actors (Stephen Baldwin; Corbin Bernsen; Michael Boatman; Kim Coles; Kathy Griffin, Erik von Detten) and one hot supermodel (Frederique) participate in wacky games (jumping off cliffs, herding sheep) while also trying to figure out who among them is The Mole.
The Mole, you see, is a double agent planted by the producers to sabotage the group's efforts to win dough. This time it's up to $250,000. At the end of each episode, the contestants take a 10-question quiz about The Mole's identity. The person who knows the least is "executed."
That's network-speak for, "Time to go home, look for another audition."
In Wednesday's opener, the acid-tongued Griffin (Suddenly Susan) is a standout and fires hilarious one-liners at will.
Bernsen is clearly the Robert Conrad of the bunch. Remember Mr. Macho Man's ultra-competitive nature on those old celebrity Superstars specials on ABC? It's a hoot watching the one-time L.A. Law stud get visibly annoyed with Coles during a game of sheep blackjack.
Don't ask. You have to watch.
And it's painfully apparent that Baldwin -- the least attractive and talented Baldwin brother -- is just tickled to be working. The guy mugs for the cameras at every turn and isn't shy to show that his gut is nearly as big as big bro Alec's.
What's missing this time, however, is the droll Anderson Cooper, who's now spending his time with Paula Zahn in the mornings on CNN. The super cool Cooper's icy stares and sly smiles are sorely missed.
Stepping in as host is Ahmad Rashad, who never met a butt he didn't love to kiss.
Rashad aside, Celebrity Mole Hawaii remains fun. Sure, the clues to the Mole's identity are more convoluted than the plot in a James Bond movie. But, so what?
A reality show that entertains while making you think is certainly worth watching. firstname.lastname@example.org