June 6, 2005 -- "The Scholar"
Tonight at 8 on ABC/Ch. 7
MY secret ambition has always been to write one of those horrible soundbites that are guaranteed to get picked in ads. You know: "The Sopranos is a Gangland Hit!" Or worse, "CSI is A-OK!"
And the ad would have my name after it to show what a big deal I am.
But noooo. Instead I write things like, "This dog needs a walk," which, let's face it, will never ever make it into anybody's ad. Until today.
Today is the big day when I get to write — are you ready? — " 'The Scholar' deserves an A+!"
Now if that doesn't get me in an ad, I give up.
And if this show doesn't make it, then we all should give up.
Finally, a competition/reality show where we don't have to endure half-witted girls in cocktail dresses competing for a jerk you wouldn't want to have lunch with, let alone marry.
Instead, "The Scholar" combines the best elements of shows like "The Amazing Race," "The Real World," "Jeopardy!" and even the old "College Bowl" by having really, really smart high school seniors — all without financial means, but with a lot of ambition — compete against one another for a $250,000 scholarship.
Produced by comedian Steve Martin, this show will have you screaming your answers out loud while, at the same time, nailing you to your seat with the drama of these kids competing for the one thing they all want — a college education.
No matter what, you'll fall for the kids competing here:
* Milana is from our own Fresh Meadows, Queens.
* Jeremy is the son of Vietnamese refugees who survived for seven days on a boat, sharing a single glass of water.
* Elizabeth from Idaho looks like a beauty queen and thinks like Einstein.
* Davis is the full-of-himself, handsome guy everyone loves to hate.
* Gerald is a kid from Texas who's never let racism stand in the way of maintaining a 3.91 GPA.
* Scot is the wild card here because he's been home-schooled his whole life, yet maintains a 4.0 GPA and works outside the home 80 hours a week. (He's never had classmates, let alone roommates!)
Each week there will be several contests — from literature to math to brain teasers — with captains chosen by skill.
The kids are judged by three college admissions experts (think "American Idol" for brainiacs). But they compete not just on smarts, but on leadership qualities and outside interests, as well as how they handle themselves under pressure.
"The Scholar" is my favorite new show of the season so far. ABC gets an A+ too. (That's gotta get me in an ad, no?)