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TV Review: Celebrity Duets

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I've got a problem and I'm big enough of a pixie I'm going to admit it you. Right here, in front of God and everybody. It's something only one other person was aware of until now. I'm addicted to Reality TV.

Before you start freaking out and putting together interventions or cutting our cable cables, let me set your mind at ease a bit. I'm not addicted to all Reality TV. Not the action-adventure ones like Survivor, Big Brother, or Road Rules. I'm addicted to the ones that show the foibles of humanity and humility, more like SuRReal Life, Wife Swap, and Supernanny.  And part of their appeal is, in the end, there's at least one asshole that redeems themselves on television.

The ones I pant for are the music related ones. I haven't kept my love for American Idol hidden. After all, one isn't much of an addiction. It's the others you don't know about, like the RockStar series, Nashville Star, and the like I can't stop watching. Not just the competitions but all the trappings, especially those celebrity judges.

Wait, for clarification purposes not all of these types of shows are for even me, Making of the Band was just blah. There was another one earlier this summer and I can't remember the name of it, but it didn't even raise my pulse. I especially hate the ones with little children and tweens because to me those (like children's beauty pageants) seem like legal kiddie porn.

I grew up with celebrities as part of my life, probably due to my mom's fixation on movie magazines. I'm comfortable having them around the house and on TV in a personal kind of way. And now there's this whole new sub-series. The Celebrity Plus is what  I call them. Dancing with the Stars, Skating with the Stars, and the newest to debut is Celebrity Duets.

I swear I was honestly not going to watch this one. I' promised myself I wouldn't. I saw the commercials for it and they sort of scared me. The contestants are primarily from TV and movies, including Lea Thompson, Alfonso Ribiero, and Hal Sparks. Oh, and Cheech Marin too! 

Each week, they compete by singing duets with established musical performers. Top recording artists, some of whom I really admire, like Gladys Knight and Smokey Robinson. It's quite frightening really.

Yet somehow it got programmed onto the DVR and I didn't have the heart to just delete it without catching the first few couple of minutes. Just so I could say that yes, I checked it out and hated it. And then, it sucked me in.

You see, Fox forgot to mention there were celebrity judges; I was being naive because with Simon Cowell as executive producer it is only natural there would be three celebrity judges. 

Marie Osmond, whose music I've never been fond of, is one of the judges.  She gets major props not only for setting up and being spokesperson for her own doll company but helps design them. I also admire her for bucking her religion by divorcing a husband she could no longer stand to have a life with and coming out of the closet as it were about her problem with depression. It is as if she were one of us!

Little Richard is the next judge. I mean, he's Little Richard. Not much else needs to be said.

And David Foster, songwriter and producer of some major tunes done by some pretty major players, is the third judge. I'm not going mention them here; he's vocal enough about his own career. As evident by other TV appearances, he can be a sanctimonious prick. I'm sure he's there to be the vinegar to offset Marie's sweetness and Little Richard's Little Richard-ness (what else can you call it?).

Nor was there mention made of the series host, Wayne Brady; he is a very talented man that hasn't gotten the recognition he deserves. That's when it got me hook, line, and sucker. I mean sinker.

This week's two-hour premiere featured each non-singing celebrity singing two different duets with two different partners. Tonight the judges dumped one of the non-singers, but starting next week the voting public will be separating the chaff from the wheat. Not sure how yet, and there's no info on the show's website, but I'm sure it will be at least two of three options: cell, landline, and online voting. Perhaps even all three.

I'm not going to give you the whole play-by-play of tonight's show. You can check out the website and it looks like you can view every part of the premiere at least once, somewhere within the site. But the highlights were the surprise non-singing celebrities that kicked ass.

Hal Sparks' first song was with Smokey Robinson. I was weirded out by the fact that Smokey — performer extraordinaire who holds a solid place in my Top Five favorite singer-songwriters — would be on this type of show; that was one of the things that had me scared to begin with. Seeing him perform reminded me of just how incredible he is. He and Hal did a pretty good job, I thought. The second song Mr. Sparks did, this time with Miss Gladys was pretty good too. Hell, I'd probably sound decent singing with either one of them too.

Lucy Lawless, through the luck of the draw, also sang a song with Smokey. It was quite intense, very sexy, and worth watching twice.

The non-singing celebrity surprise of the night was Queer Eye's own Jai Rodriguez. That boy sure has a set of pipes on him! He and Gladys Knight worked their song like they'd been singing together for years and the audience was feeling it, this duet got a standing ovation. But it was Jai's song with Destiny Child's Michelle Williams that was a mindblower. "Say My Name", from her group's second release, was steamy like you wouldn't believe. Jai's Puerto Rican roots were showing, as his mucho macho posturing (obviously he can act) was a perfect counterpoint to Michelle's what the hell attitude.

As for our judges, they were all pretty much as expected. Marie was sweet and went out of her way to be kind in her assessments. She made me confused over a couple of comments she made about the attractiveness of several of our male performers. Come to think of it, I'm pretty sure those were the same ones that had Little Richard drooling too. I love watching Little Richard. He just cracks me up. And David Foster was surprisingly pleasant and like Marie, went out of his way to say nice things. It will be interesting to see if his gloves come off as the season progresses.

Wayne Brady may be the penultimate host for this type of show. His riffs, jokes, and little dance moves were maybe a bit too shticky.  But he was so much more interesting and involved to watch than someone like American Idol's Ryan Seacrest.

Adding to all of this is the promise made on the show's website of future singing guests like Macy Gray, Patti LaBelle, and Taylor Dayne.

I'm a goner.

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About tink

  • Samantha

    I thought I was going to hate Celebrity Duets, too, but after watching it twice I was hooked! I must say, I love that Lawless chick!! She’s gorgeous, has a nice voice, and is so down-to-earth. She has my vote!

  • Hey Morgan!!

    LOL…if I weren’t so inept with my computer skills, you would see the picture that I use online…it’s the bad link at the beginning of my bio and I’m working on getting that taken care of in the near future. It’s supposed to take you to my icon, a photo taken of my fave tattoo…Tinkerbell!!

    Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment..it is truly appreciated.

    Looking forward to getting to know you better!!

    all the best…

  • Morgan

    Your name seems to make fun of yov. I took it to say, “Don’t take me too seriously. After all, I’m just a tink.” Not even a Tinky, as in one of my fab four, Tinky Winky. So, I was prepared to scoot through this shallow piece, just to see what yov had to say about my Home-girl, Lucy Lawless.

    I was delighted to discover that you were not only filled with depth, but that after reading copious reviews on this show “Celebrity Duets”, due to my devotion to Lucy, I found in your piece, the best, most articulate review thus far. I don’t know if you review to make a living, but the Pro’s could take a lesson from you.

    I loved your admission to being a reality devotee. What I enjoyed more was your real lack of snarky cynicism, even for the self aggrandizing, David Foster. Too many critics I’ve read slipped into hateful pot-shots of the artists, rather than critique the show itself.

    Thanks, tink. Now, I follow you as well. You can ask Lucy. Once you step up and improve the quality of my life, I respond with loyalty, and support. Both things you’ve earned with your heartfelt approach to your writing.