Not unexpectedly, the cheeky idea behind “The Choice” — Fox’s thumb-in-the-eye, sound- and lookalike knockoff of a certain NBC musical competition — is ultimately more enticing than the execution. The premiere provides silly fun for awhile provided one can tolerate the camera panning over women from toe to head, like a burger in a fast-food ad, but as there’s really nothing at stake, sitting through a full hour begins to yield diminishing returns. That said, the series will likely trigger curiosity as a summer fill-in, and if nothing else demonstrates Fox reality guru Mike Darnell hasn’t lost his renegade no-honor-among-thieves streak.Fox’s decision to so brazenly tweak NBC doubtless has a lot to do with “The Voice’s” success, but the network and producers haven’t bothered trying to obscure the similarities, down to the swiveling chairs the four celebrity bachelors occupy. About that term: Fox certainly is bandying “celebrity” about rather loosely; indeed, without an assist from reality TV, “The Choice” might exhaust its supply of what qualifies as genuine “celebrities” before the second episode. At any rate, the four guys — in the premiere, “Jersey Shore’s” Pauly D, singer Romeo, athlete Jeremy Bloom and soap actor Jason Cook — listen to the women describe themselves before deciding whether to pull their “love handle” (groan) and swivel around to examine the merchandise. The herd will eventually be thinned to a trio of candidates for each guy, who chooses one for a “dream date.” Host Cat Deeley does what she can to energize the proceedings, and the way the celebs respond to the crowd reaction is, initially, kind of funny. Speaking bluntly, though, the show simply isn’t as piggish as would be required to feel truly provocative. For that to happen, the guys would have to swivel around and see a woman they consider terribly disappointing. While some candidates are more attractive than others, the show doesn’t descend (yet, anyway) to that level. Barring that, the parade of eager contestants can’t help but become a tad repetitive — and tedious. Fox will pair “Choice” with another dating concept, the George Lopez-hosted “Take Me Out,” in what amounts to a low-risk test of whether MTV-style fare can thrive there during the summer. Lacking a harder edge, though, it’s difficult to envision the series sustaining much interest, even if the sampling’s solid. Credit Fox with making some noise, perhaps, but those behind “The Choice” would need to swing bigger love handles to become must-see TV. Because the bottom line is that viewers — like these sorta-celebrities — have lots of choices.
Fox, Thurs. June 7, 9 p.m.
Produced by A. Smith & Co. Prods and Entertain the Brutes. Executive producers, Arthur Smith, Kent Weed, Scott St. John; supervising producer, John Quinn; director, Weed.
RUNNING TIME: 60 MIN.
With: Cat Deeley
Data provided by:Nielsen Media Research (Preliminary Results)