BY TERRY MORROW
Scripps Howard News Service
The Will deserves to make television history.
The "reality" competition series (debuting at 8 p.m. tonight on Channels 4 and 12) will go down as the most vile, venomous and hateful program CBS has ever scheduled.
It's more reprehensible than the strangers on Survivor who backstab for a $1 million prize and more self-involved than the pushy players of The Amazing Race who give new meaning to the term "arrogant American tourists."
The Will has a family vying for the 500-plus-acre ranch of the still-living patriarch. Bill Long, the 73-year-old leader of this pack of wolves, says he'll leave the winner of this game his spread, but they have to prove themselves worthy first.
So how does he decide? Does he do it through their strength of character and devotion? No, he makes them play ridiculous challenges, a la Survivor, and they form alliances to protect themselves from being eliminated.
No moral compass can be found with this clan.
Worst of the lot is Penny, who is Long's fourth wife. She's a busty blonde half his age who gets her hair color from a bottle and delights in telling the camera what a player she can be.
If this is the sort of woman Long wants to be with, his judgment is sadly diluted.
The Will makes bottom-feeders such as Big Brother and Fox's adoption special Who's Your Daddy? look respectable. This is as low as reality television can get. For now.
Yes, the argument can be made that this show is only possible because Long's family and friends volunteer to be part of this debacle.
These are the kind of sleazy folks who don't mind airing their dirty laundry on television and think bragging about their manipulative ways is a badge of honor.
It isn't. The Will isn't a brilliant competition. It's bad humanity, and you shouldn't watch. I can understand tuning to it once. Repeated viewing -- or worse yet, enjoying this trash -- should cause you to re-examine your own life. This isn't entertainment. It's tragedy.
Seeing family members treat each other as prey for the sake of real estate is stomach-turning.
Even the most diehard "reality"-show fan will be hard-pressed to find anyone to sympathize in this group. Elimination ceremonies, pressing family members to chose who should continue in the game, are so cliched that it's staged like something out of The Joe Schmo Show.
What makes these competition shows reasonably appealing is that, among the bunch of wannabes, the slick and the pathetic, will be someone who shines -- that underdog who deserves to come out on top. The Will has no such personality. In the end, they are all losers, and so is anyone who finds this remotely engaging.