Screen Savors: A pale imitation in Eilat

But early returns indicate the Israeli "Beauty and the Geek," an attempt to copy a successful American program is, like the beauties seem to be most of the time, all wet.

This week it was announced that a tender would soon be held for Channel 10. Some advice to those considering purchasing the station: drive a tender over there and get rid of some of the sleaze masquerading as television. The latest case in point is the station's recent adoption of the Fox network's Beauty and the Geek (available locally on Star World). While I understand the program brings together 10 total dorks with 10 total airhead foxes to see "if they can change each other and make them more well-rounded individuals" - which in TV parlance means everyone into the Jacuzzi - it was hard to hide my dismay at how much cheaper and worse the Israeli version is. My family had the experience of hosting Richard Rubin, one of the better known geeks from the U.S. version, I was pretty familiar with the concept and had an idea of what to expect from the show's Israeli cousin. I was not amused. In the U.S. version, the geeks first meet the ladies inside while everyone's still dressed. Channel 10, in its imitable fashion to get right to the skin, had our boys meet the girls poolside at the Eilat villa where all the hoo-ha happens. That was bad enough. But, a show whose aim is for below the waist has no right to be boring. Yet, this one is. In a desperate attempt to inject some excitement, all kinds of gimmicks are employed. At the end of the first episode, the 10 couples are taken to a local airstrip, where they were offered as much as 10,000 Euros and a trip to Paris to vamoose and let someone else take over. No one blinked - so no need to rename the show "Smart Girl and Bright Dude". Instead, there were the usual series of 'challenges' with the guys coached by the girls for a solo at an Eilat nightclub and the girls coached by the guys to do some tour guiding at Mini Israel. While our American friend Richard's geekiness out-shown that of his competitors, in the Israeli version there's really no one to cheer for. Actually, some of the guys, Itai in particular, seemed outright non-geeky. And, do they really expect us to believe that the bespectacled Yoav has never had a girlfriend. That's just a gimmicky line stolen from a similar U.S. geek. The girls weren't much better. There's Roxanne, the bitch everyone hates who looked like she was a goner but is saved. Then there's Lisa, who yells at her partner Oz when the boy goes a little over the top in his nightclub performance. This leads to the couple's eventual eviction from the villa. Big surprise… not! It was almost as predictable as airhead Olla winning in the guiding competition, following her tearful declaration, "I'm not stupid." Even the host, Pini Tavgar, is kind of boring. He interacts with the contestants without much emotion. I think he'd be more entertaining if he spent an hour in the Jacuzzi - maybe. Tavgar couldn't even make a game of strip poker interesting. Though it was confusing, played with a wheel of chance instead of the more traditional cards. Leave it to Channel 10 to have one participant's bulbul (johnson) make a guest appearance, a low attempt at low humor. In fact, while watching, one wonders, as with the US version, just how much of this show is scripted. It's hard to believe that one of the girls really thought the Second Temple was destroyed in 1967 or another that the Knesset was in Caesarea. And, does Shahar really have to wear a NASA shirt for us to believe he's a dweeb? With only one couple out so far, it's still early for the blue and white Beauty and the Geek. But early returns indicate this attempt to copy a successful American program is, like the beauties seem to be most of the time, all wet. Beauty and the Geek airs on Channel 10 Wednesdays at 21:00.