Like two infomercials pitching romance to airheads, USA’s “Crush” and “Friends or Lovers” is a double shot of staged unpleasant-ness. Space fillers in every sense, this one-two gameshow punch, which debuted in March, offers up plenty of reasons to doubt young hearts and, to some extent, the cable net’s original programming division. Inexpensive is fine, but this two flesh fantasies are so on-the-cheap, they make local access look impressive.Unorganized, unprofessional and missing the juiced-up kicks that made MTV’s “Singled Out” a tolerable slice of horniness, these contributions come off as amateur in both style and substance. Then again, even if the production values were better, that wouldn’t make up for the unengaging parade of dips that participate. If these people reflect the target demo for Barry Diller’s network, then the mogul must not think too highly of the Internet generation.
“Crush” is a “Dating Game” for college freshmen. A contestant faces three potential suitors, one of whom has a real-life obsession with the player. Through “What’s My Line”-ish questions, the hunk or hottie has to determine who really wants to get busy. Once everybody finds out the truth, the contestant can take his/her new sweetie to Hawaii or leave them behind. Ouch!
But at least they’re on the same team. “Friends or Lovers” unbelievably pits a person’s best bud against a potential honey. All three air their dirty laundry, bring up some bad blood, and the guest of honor has to pick a “winner” for a trip to Acapulco. Review copy actually has a thirtysomething recovering substance abuser pleading his case to a 19-year-old tart who cries when he kneels on a pillow.
Where did they get these candidates? Unafraid to express their sexual fantasies while laughing uncontrollably, they talk and act as if they’ve been rounded up from a skateboard convention. And unlike the syndicated “Blind Date,” nobody displays their true colors: They seem to be coached all the way and are too intent on saying, “Rock on!”
There is certainly a place for dopey shows about folks in lust, but these ideas feel like they came from the pad of a freshman studying broadcasting: Lazy set design, a turned up applause-track and two hosts that could have been waiting tables only three weeks ago don’t regis-ter much on the class-o-meter. Ricki Lake, where are you?