An incredibly longtime staple of the medium, Candid Camera-type shows never seem to completely disappear from television. They may hibernate for a while, fooling everyone into thinking that they're gone, but before you know it, a new one is on the air. The show almost certainly won't be called Candid Camera, but the essential idea behind the show — put everyday people into odd situations and film them without their knowing — will remain unchanged. CBS is about to bring us round two of their latest variation on the theme, I Get That A Lot.
This show, which first aired on April Fool's Day 2009, features celebrities doing some sort of customer service job, and denying to anyone who sees them that they are in fact famous. Rather than copping to their identity, they just utter the phrase "I get that a lot" over and over and over again.
The celebrities who appear this time out are Rachael Ray, Gene Simmons, Julie Chen, Snoop Dogg, Paris Hilton, and Tony Hawk. The scenarios the celebrities are put in are all rather plain, and each of the various situations only work as well as the celebrity involved.
It is Julie Chen who is the standout amongst the group. Although she is not recognized by everyone she helps get yogurt for, she has an incredible amount of fun with the scenario, constantly annoying, frustrating, and perplexing customers. She is, perhaps, the most traditional Candid Camera-like person here, just generally bothering people whether or not they have any idea she is famous. Then, when people do recognize her – or at least that she looks kind of like Julie Chen – she turns it up a notch and is truly outstanding. Chen is even good-natured enough to make fun of herself by doing a Chen-bot impersonation.
Unfortunately, with too many of the celebrities depicted here, they are either spotted instantly and no one will believe that they are not the famous person in question or not spotted at all and simply unfunny with their shtick. The episode contains too few laughs, and also, as these sorts of shows are, appears to be highly edited. The rapid switching from unsuspecting person to unsuspecting person to unsuspecting person (or would-be unsuspecting person to would-be unsuspecting person, etc.) followed by the reveal ends up leaving one greatly questioning what, precisely, we didn't see — especially as this is with celebrities.
For instance, Snoop Dogg is recognized by an incredible number of people right off the bat and he then tries to convince them he's not Snoop Dogg, and everyone seems rather unsure – if the number of people who recognized him was as high as it appears, how many were completely unfooled by his protestations, how many looked around and uttered that famous line "am I on Candid Camera," or a reasonable facsimile thereof. We don't see anyone say that, but it is hard to believe that in this day and age no one did.
Additionally, not everyone who gets duped (or doesn't) ends up giving a post-scenario interview, a fact which only further exacerbates the feeling that we really aren't getting the full picture of what took place. No one would think that a show like this would remain unedited, but perhaps it should feel less edited.
In the end, if one has any interest in Candid Camera shows or the celebrities involved in this one, they'll probably enjoy I Get That A Lot in fits and spurts. It will, however, certainly do nothing to win any converts to the genre.
I Get That A Lot airs Wednesday January 6, at 8pm.