The pitch for “Cedric’s Barber Battle” is so good — the “Barbershop” comic? In a reality competition about barbers? — that the execution was probably an afterthought. Or at least, it sure looks that way with this new CW series, a featherweight production that travels to different cities, where barbers vie for a whopping $15,000 and some hair-care products. As host, Cedric the Entertainer certainly keeps things light and breezy, and the marriage of star and concept is half the “Battle.” But the series is so challenged for volume it’s a struggle even to fluff out episodes to a half-hour.
“Barber Battle” joins a fairly lengthy list of made-for-TV competitions built around different professions, with the idea that the barbers are essentially artists, creating elaborate designs with clippers and dye. A trio of judges then analyzes their masterpieces of coiffure, after giving them specific assignments set against time limits.
Clearly, the barbers have been encouraged to talk trash to each other, hurling taunts and insults mostly on the level of “Your mama” jokes while chopping away, as the in-shop crowd obligingly hoots and hollers.
Like every other network, CW is looking to balance the cost of cranking out even a limited primetime lineup, and with its drama-heavy roster, this certainly represents an inexpensive way to fill some time on Friday nights. Yet other than creating a touch of strategic excitement in key markets and offering a tie-in opportunity for Barbershopconnect.com (whose founder is among the producers), it’s hard to see this show accomplishing more than just barely keeping the lights on — or maybe the pole spinning.
As noted, enlisting Cedric to preside over this exercise represents a modest coup. Once that novelty wears off, though, as they say around the barbershop, “Next!”