'Eragon'

Think of "Amnesia" as a kinder, gentler version of Fox's "The Moment of Truth" -- a gameshow that mines a contestant's personal trivia for laughs, with the player amassing cash based on details he can remember about high school, meeting his wife, etc.

Think of “Amnesia” as a kinder, gentler version of Fox’s “The Moment of Truth” — a gameshow that mines a contestant’s personal trivia for laughs, with the player amassing cash based on details he can remember about high school, meeting his wife, etc. Thumbing its nose at TV conventions, the concept eliminates play-along prospects, since the audience has no clue what the answers are. The show is harmless and silly, but if producer Mark Burnett’s latest is demonstrative of the alternative pitches networks were down to ordering, then the resolution of the writers strike came in the nick of time.

Joining the roster of comics moonlighting on NBC gameshows (Howie Mandel, Bob Saget), Dennis Miller does earn his keep here, playfully riffing with participants regarding tidbits from their past. As a footnote, this hosting gig may represent the longest Miller has gone without referencing Sept. 11 since that event transformed him into the Rudy Giuliani of comedy.

Steering clear of humiliation, the questions go more for Catskills-style shtick, prolonging the build-up between rounds of questions within the premiere (which wasn’t made available in advance) by interviewing the guy’s father, brother and wife. Think of it as “This Is Your Life” for someone you’ve never met and have absolutely no interest in, except that he can win $10,000 by recalling his wife’s ring size or the number worn by the quarterback on his high school’s football team.

All told, it’s the sort of man-on-the-street bit that would work well as a three-minute segment — David Letterman’s old “network time-killers” — stretched (and stretched some more) to an hour. Credit the producers with mastering the art of teasing that out, but given the payoff, “Anticlimax” would still have been a more fitting title.

“Amnesia” opened to a respectable 7.6 million viewers and slides into the 8 o’clock slot in its second outing, where expectations will be modest. Given the tepid roster of Friday-night fare, there’s always a chance that your humble correspondent may check the series out again, but frankly, odds are I’ll forget.

Amne$ia

NBC, Fri. Feb. 22, 9 p.m.

Production

Taped in L.A. by Mark Burnett Prods. Executive producers, Burnett, Adam Cohen, Cara Tapper, Joanna Vernetti; co-executive producers, Jeff Krask, Jim Roush; supervising producer, Evelyn Warfel; senior producers, Jason Gabel, Paul Hardy; producers, Derek Che, Nate Hayden, Stacey Margetts, Mary Morelli, Sascha Rothchild.

Crew

Challenge producers, Rob Cohen, Mike DiMaggio; director, Don Weiner; supervising editor, Barry Murphy; production designer, Joe Stewart; music, David Vanacore; casting, Matt Vener. RUNNING TIME: 60 MIN.

Cast

Host: Dennis Miller.
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