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Happy Hour

What begins as a horrendous pseudo-celebrity karaoke night gives way to an occasionally cute, always out of control gameshow that's equal parts grating and giddy. Host Ahmet Zappa -- with brother Dweezil fine as the low-key sidekick -- is way over the top, even nasty, as he generates and maintains a maelstrom of activity and noise with little care for cohesiveness or intelligibility.

With:
Hosts: Ahmet Zappa, Dweezil Zappa. Guests: Park Overall, Lark Voorhies, Georgette Mosbacher, Jodi Lyn O'Keefe, Karen McDougal, Garrett Morris, Shaun Palmer, Danny Masterson, Wallace Langham, Carlos Alazraqui; Tonic; Bombshell Dancers.

What begins as a horrendous pseudo-celebrity karaoke night gives way to an occasionally cute, always out of control gameshow that’s equal parts grating and giddy. Host Ahmet Zappa — with brother Dweezil fine as the low-key sidekick — is way over the top, even nasty, as he generates and maintains a maelstrom of activity and noise with little care for cohesiveness or intelligibility. Show aims to be an English-lingo version of those never-ending Spanish-language variety shows, but Ahmet and the producers have cast a relentless, claustrophobic cloud over these goofy proceedings; 15 minutes in, audiences might well scream, “Enough, already!”

Then again, with Ahmet in the host’s seat, there’s no concern about finding celebrities too far down on the A-Z list. Debut week’s players include such notables as Carlos Alazraqui. He’s the voice of the Taco Bell dog. Georgette Mosbacher, who wrote “It Takes Money, Honey.” Shaun Palmer, an Extreme sports champion. Later editions include hairstylists, a wrestler, an Internet mogul and a volleyball player.

They’re asked to play about five or six unrelated games. On the bad side is dueling karaoke in which the women, all clearly embarrassed, sing “We are Family.” They compete with the men, hamming it up, singing “Tubthumping.”

The good is a game identifying the insides of candy bars and a version of “Name That Tune,” the two contests that actually appear to have rules.

On one tangent, Karen McDougal (a Playboy playmate of the year, in case the name isn’t familiar) competes with a spectator over facts about her life. The game ends tied, but she correctly points out that her perfect date includes “dinner in Paris, followed by a walk on the beach.” (Geography fans worldwide react with groans.)

Somewhere in the planning stages, however, there was an unneeded call for musical performances, all of which seem forced. The show opens with Ahmet singing “Jailhouse Rock,” complete with subtitles so you can sing along at home, and later includes a rendition of Kiss’ “Rock ‘n’ Roll All Night.” It gives the bikini-clad Bombshell Dancers something to do, if nothing else. The rock band Tonic plays two songs as well.

Audience noise is mixed ridiculously high. The show is shot and edited in an appropriate frenzied manner, though every now and then it would be nice to stop and focus on someone other than Ahmet. Eventually, though, people familiar with the Zappa lineage will offer a tsk-tsk to this show and remark: Isn’t this the sort of banality Frank railed against?

Happy Hour

USA; Sat., April 3, 9 p.m.

Production: Taped in Los Angeles by Lighthearted Entertainment in association with Case Prods. and Virgin Century TV. Executive producer, Howard Schultz; co-producer, Danny Brean; supervising producer, Todd Yasui; director, Richie Namm; writers, Michael Agbabian, Dwight D. Smith, Howard Schultz.

Crew: Production designer, John Gillers; lighting design, Simon Miles; music, Leland Sklar; choreographer, Robin Antin. Running Time: 1 HOUR.

Cast: Hosts: Ahmet Zappa, Dweezil Zappa. Guests: Park Overall, Lark Voorhies, Georgette Mosbacher, Jodi Lyn O'Keefe, Karen McDougal, Garrett Morris, Shaun Palmer, Danny Masterson, Wallace Langham, Carlos Alazraqui; Tonic; Bombshell Dancers.

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