Adapted from the U.K. series “Undercover Princes,” “Secret Princes” owes such a debt to the movie “Coming to America” it’s a shame the late Art Buchwald isn’t around to file another lawsuit against it. Overflowing with artifice, the show assembles four “princes,” dropping them into Atlanta on a quest to find true love from someone who isn’t drawn to or aware of their status. Given how well the reverse formula worked for “Joe Millionaire,” one suspects this will score on a less-ostentatious level for TLC.
The premiere devotes considerable time to puffing up the credentials of its twentysomething bachelors — two from the U.K., one from India and the other from Spain. Once assembled, they engage in what can only be called a title-swinging contest, before the producers get down to the business of humbling them, forcing them to take menial jobs to disguise their wealth and privilege.
In the interim, there’s much concern about private toilets, and pronouncements like, “I have no idea how to wash clothes.” Nor is there any mention of the pretense used to explain why these ordinary Joes are being tailed by camera crews as they go speed dating and to work.
The quartet’s only really compelling character is Robert Walters, a British lord who also happens to be a fitness model. His interviews and sense of humor should qualify him for candidacy as “The Bachelor.”
Strictly in commercial terms, it’s hard not to marvel at how many comedy genres “Princes” manages to shoehorn into one package: Fish-out-of-water, mismatched romance, unlikely buddies — all on a budget.Even the scheduling exhibits a crafty streak. Hey, younger gals, you’re home on Friday night, thinking about what could be. Well, some day, your prince will come. Until then …