Nothing really screams Thanksgiving weekend like people gathering around the collective hearth and watching somebody try to sing with snakes or scorpions crawling up his or her thighs. Enter “Killer Karaoke,” a TruTV series that seeks to wed the musical competition of “The Voice” with the inanity of “Jackass,” tapping a participant in the latter, Steve-O, as its host. Even taken on its own terms, this is one of those big, loud concepts that begins to yield diminishing returns by, oh, about halfway through the premiere.Admittedly, there is something amusing, in a twisted way, about subjecting contestants to the equivalent of enhanced-interrogation techniques in pursuit of a mere $10,000 prize and a few minutes of basic-cable immortality. By that measure, the series resembles any number of Japanese game/competition shows, which revel in thrusting players into ridiculous situations. It’s just that “Killer Karaoke” can’t really kill anyone (lawyers and insurers frown on that), and quickly grows repetitive in the sort of trials to which its would-be singers are subjected. The first, for example, is an attractive woman thrown into a tank of cold water (hardly a need for explanation there), which is soon filled with snakes. After that, though, there are more snakes, and scorpions, and cactus, and … well, you get the idea. Each round eliminates one player, before the survivors square off in an anticlimactic sing-off. By then, if people start nodding off, it won’t be because of a big Thanksgiving dinner. Given how much artifice goes into many of TruTV’s so-called reality shows, this one at least benefits from an element of authenticity, if only because it’s difficult to fake some of these reactions. Yet other than perhaps the flow of bleeped expletives, there’s no build-up to the show (indeed, the final challenge is probably the least visually interesting), but simply more of the same. “Whatever happens, do not stop singing!” the raspy-voiced Steve-O tells the contestants. Fair enough, but feel free to stop watching.
Announcer: Dee Snider