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

  • Ryan KadroPaleyLive NY: The News Is

    ‘CBS This Morning’ Executive Producer in Potential Exit Talks

    Ryan Kadro, the executive producer of “CBS This Morning” and one of the architects of the A.M. program, is currently in contract discussions that could lead to his exit from the show, according to three people familiar with the matter. Kadro’s contract is slated to run out at the end of the year, and he [...]

  • NBC's California O&Os to Launch 'California

    NBC's California O&Os to Launch 'California Live' Daily Daytime Series

    NBC’s three California O&Os are set to launch a live daily lifestyle series dubbed “California Live.” The series will air at 11:30 a.m. Monday through Friday across KNBC-TV Los Angeles, KNTV-TV San Francisco and KNSD San Diego. The show will have some modular segments that will be customized for each market, with an emphasis on [...]

  • TV Roundup: Netflix Sets 'Tidying Up

    TV News Roundup: Steven Yeun Joins 'Twilight Zone' at CBS All Access

    In Wednesday’s roundup, Netflix reveals the premiere date for “Tidying Up With Marie Kondo,” and Steven Yeun joins Jordan Peele’s “Twilight Zone” reboot. FIRST LOOKS  Variety has an exclusive behind-the-scenes first look at Season 2 of Showtime’s “SMILF,” featuring creator and star, Frankie Shaw. The new season, which premieres Sunday, Jan. 20 at 10:30 p.m. ET/PT, finds Bridgette trying to move [...]

  • Charlie Rose Sexual Harassment

    CBS News Settles Suit Alleging Harassment by Charlie Rose

    CBS News settled a lawsuit filed by three women who alleged they were harassed by former “CBS This Morning” co-anchor Charlie Rose, and claimed CBS did not act despite being aware of the situation. The amount awarded to the women was not disclosed at their request, according to a CBS News spokesperson. “The matter has [...]

  • 'Liga' Kicks Off At Ventana Sur's

    Ventana Sur: 'La Liga' Kicks Off at Buenos Aires' Animation!

    Spain’s Quirino Awards, Argentina’s Animation! and Mexico’s Pixelatl Festival, three key events in Ibero-American animation, will join forces to create La Liga (The League), as announced Wednesday at an Animation! round table hosted by the Quirino Awards, titled “Iberoamerican Alliance Models.” Speakers included Quirino Awards promoter José Luis Farias, Mexico’s Pixelatl director José Iñesta, Gonzalo [...]

  • Netflix - Marvel's The Defenders

    Don't Expect 'The Defenders' on Disney Streaming Service Any Time Soon (EXCLUSIVE)

    Fans of the Marvel Television series recently canceled by Netflix who hope to see the shows revived on Disney+ may be out of luck. Sources tell Variety that the deal for the original four Marvel shows includes a clause that prevents the characters from appearing in any non-Netflix series or film for at least two years after [...]

  • One Dollar CBS All Access

    'One Dollar' Canceled by CBS All Access After One Season

    “One Dollar” has the ignominious distinction of being the first CBS All Access original series to be canceled. Variety has confirmed that the streaming service will not be bringing the drama series back for a second season. The series was set in a small rust belt town in post-recession America, where a one-dollar bill changing [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content