You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

The Scholar

This hybrid of "The Real World" and "The Weakest Link" qualifies as a welcome addition to the feel-good reality genre that ABC appears intent on cornering. With a cast of appealing, financially challenged kids vying for a full-ride scholarship, the program deftly conveys the pressure these teens face, blended with the insecurity and flirting associated with raging hormones.

Host: Rob Nelson.

Perhaps better suited to MTV than ABC, this hybrid of “The Real World” and “The Weakest Link” qualifies as a welcome addition to the feel-good reality genre that ABC appears intent on cornering. With a cast of appealing, financially challenged kids vying for a full-ride scholarship, the program — most notable for its high-wattage producer lineup — deftly conveys the pressure these teens face, blended with the insecurity and flirting associated with raging hormones. While unlikely to deliver particularly high Nielsen scores, it’s nevertheless a laudable hour, even if no one gets too wild and crazy.

Essentially structured as the “school edition” of ABC’s “Extreme Makeover” fuzziness, the series also incorporates various competitive trappings, from a “captain’s quiz” to an elaborate scavenger hunt to an academic showdown to determine who advances. (For high school seniors the questions don’t seem particularly difficult, but then again, you don’t want to scare away that part of the aud accustomed to “According to Jim.”)

The event brings together a geographic and ethnic rainbow of kids at the USC campus, a somewhat unusual setting given that none of them resembles a Heisman Trophy candidate. A three-member admissions committee judges their competitions, providing some insight into the harsh calculus that determines who survives the winnowing process for slots at major universities.

Wisely, it’s not strictly an elimination game, and the kids can actually claim scholarship money short of winning the grand prize, which feels appropriate — departing from the usual dog-eat-dog, winner-takes-all reality formula.

Real estate mogul Eli Broad has kicked in the up-to-$240,000 scholarship, and Wal-Mart (a company whose image can always use a little polishing) contributes $50,000 to the champion of the first episode, who emotionally enthuses about that sum ensuring a collegiate future.

“Real World” producer Jonathan Murray knows this territory well, and also-ran talkshow host Rob Nelson efficiently handles his hosting chores without being condescending or smarmy.

The question is whether the concept will prove too narrow to attract a mainstream audience (a la the WB’s failed “Studio 7”), especially since the teens are engaged in goody two-shoes pursuit of academic fulfillment, not the usual trou-droppingspring break hijinx we’ve come to expect.

Still, in a summer thus far rife with “reality” clones, “The Scholar” exhibits some smarts and a clear sense of mission. So even if the series doesn’t score with viewers, ABC deserves better than just passing grades.

The Scholar

ABC, Mon. June 6, 8 p.m.

Production: Filmed in Los Angeles by Bunim-Murray Prods., Martin/Stein and Carsey-Werner Prods. Executive producers, Jonathan Murray, Steve Martin, Joan Stein, Marcy Carsey, Tom Werner; co-executive producer, Joey Carson; supervising producer, Russell Heldt; supervising story editor, Catherine Myers;

Crew: Camera, Jorge Alves; production design, Ram Foulger; editors, Sharon Rennert, Joe Shugard, Annie Tighe; music, Michael Suby, S3Music; supervising casting director, Morgan Fahey. 60 MIN.

Cast: Host: Rob Nelson.

More TV

  • Ari Emanuel Endeavor

    Endeavor IPO Filing Offers Details of Company's Financials, Leadership Pay Packages

    Endeavor’s IPO filing Thursday offers a hard look at the company’s financial performance during the past three years during a period of rapid growth for the company that’s home to UFC, WME, Professional Bull Riders and a clutch of other assets. Endeavor is generating solid free cash flow from operations and healthy adjusted earnings for [...]

  • Blake Jenner What If TV Show

    'What/If' Star Blake Jenner on Creating Chemistry With Jane Levy, Renee Zellweger

    Blake Jenner first rose to fame in 2012 when he won “The Glee Project” and therefore earned a role on “Glee” proper. In the years since, though, he graduated from teen heartthrob status to meatier, edgier roles in films such as “American Animals” and now the Netflix limited series “What/If,” in which he stars opposite [...]

  • Mario Lopez Candy Crush

    Mario Lopez, Seth Kurland Set Latinx Family Comedy Series at Netflix

    Mario Lopez and Seth Kurland are teaming up for a new comedy series at Netflix. Variety has learned that the streamer has given a 16 episode order to the multi-cam comedy “The Expanding Universe of Ashley Garcia” co-created by Lopez and Kurland. In the series, when Ashley Garcia — the world’s only 15-and-a-half-year-old robotics engineer [...]

  • HBO logo

    TV News Roundup: HBO Announces Recipients of 2019 HBOAccess Writing Fellowship

    In today’s roundup, Fox Nation announces a fresh slate of programming for the summer and HBO announces the recipients of its HBOAccess Writing Fellowship. DEVELOPMENT: HBO has announced the recipients of its 2019 HBOAccess Writing Fellowship. The eight writers selected out of the 3,000 submissions will participate in an 8-month program of master classes and [...]

  • Big Bang Theory

    'Big Bang Theory,' 'Manifest' Among Top Live+7 Gainers of 2018-2019 Season

    With 2018-2019 broadcast season wrapping up, certain shows stand head and shoulders above their competition in the Nielsen Live+7 rankings. Live+7 data is currently available only through May 5, but the top dogs will likely see little change once the final numbers are in for the traditional September-May season. The top gainer in adults 18-49 [...]

  • Anna Kendrick Paul Feig

    Anna Kendrick, Paul Feig Team for Comedy Anthology Series at WarnerMedia Streaming Service

    Anna Kendrick and Paul Feig are coming to the WarnerMedia streaming service Variety has learned that the upcoming streamer has ordered the romantic comedy anthology series “Love Life,” the first season of which will star Kendrick with Feig executive producing. WarnerMedia has ordered a 10-episode first season of the half-hour series. Lionsgate Television and FeigCo [...]

  • Jon Feltheimer

    Lionsgate Posts Loss, Underperforms Wall Street Expectations

    Lionsgate has posted a quarterly loss and its revenues and operating income have come in under Wall Street projections, despite growth from its premium cable channel, Starz. The studio reported a net loss of $24 million, or 11 cents a share, with adjusted operating income of $103 million for its fourth fiscal quarter ended March [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content