Just because a TV show is produced by the sponsor — a throwback to the early days of television, albeit Bud_United_BIG_TIME_logo600one that's becoming increasingly common — doesn't automatically mean that it has to be dreck.

Call it an unhappy coincidence.

"Bud United Presents: The Big Time" is warm and inoffensive, and less a reality-competition show than an impersonation of one. That's despite the participation of @radical.media and Evan Weinstein, a producer on "The Amazing Race," to shepherd the series.

The idea is to wed social media with the competition format, only in a kind of speed-dating setting. So each week, a trio of contestants vie for a prize — in the premiere, singing at a major concert showcase — thinning the not-quite herd until one gets rewarded with his or her moment of glory.

Other challenges include things like racing professional race-car drivers and pitching for a pro baseball team — not that you really have enough time to get to know, much less care about, the participants. If the weekly goals have one thing in common, my bet is they're all ideal venues for serving up a frosty cold one.

ABC has committed to air the seven episodes on Saturday afternoons beginning Jan. 21, a bit of scheduling that doesn't augur boffo ratings, though that appears to be beyond the point. (In addition to ABC, FremantleMedia is distributing the program across the globe.)

Then again, "The Big Time" does perform a kind of public service for those who think turning sponsors loose as programmers is a grand idea — proving that you can lead a Clydesdale to water, but you can't make him drink.

 

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