In the “People unclear on the concept” dept., Ice T crosses the “suggestive but not dirty” line early in the premiere of “Celebrity Family Feud” by answering “Something that’s slippery and hard to hold onto” with what Al Roker euphemistically refers to as “Mr. Winky.” That’s about the one memorable moment here, as NBC seeks to vamp its way through the summer with an alphabetical progression of “Celebrity” concepts, from “Circus” to “Feud” to — what’s next, “Jackass?” Ultimately it’s harmless but at-best tepid fun that makes one long for the Richard Dawson’s drollness over Roker’s ebullience.
Proving that the prizes really don’t matter in these affairs, four loosely defined “family” teams play off in the “Feud” for $50,000. The premiere pits Ice T’s brood against Joan and Melissa Rivers’ bunch, followed by Team Raven-Symone vs. Wayne Newton. (The former brings along her TV parents from “That’s So Raven,” which will be terrific should they do a sequel titled “Fictional Family Feud.”)
Like “Celebrity Jeopardy” (where the most difficult question is generally something like “The state where ‘The Terminator’ is governor”), the survey questions seem a bit easier here. Nevertheless, when asked to identify things that are faked, one suspects Dawson would have somehow worked in a vague reference to orgasms. No such luck with Uncle Al, who reinforces the “Family” part of the title except when he ogles Ice T’s fabulously endowed wife, Coco.
There’s an obvious logic in reviving well-known gameshows like this and CBS’ inflationary “Million Dollar Password” as inexpensive primetime fare during the sweltering months. That said, the upside potential and chance of stumbling onto a hit seems far more limited than, say, experimenting with enterprises such as ABC’s “I Survived a Japanese Game Show,” which also makes its debut Tuesday but wasn’t available in advance.
Simply throwing celebrities into familiar formats doesn’t exactly qualify as ingenuity, especially when the well of the famous or merely notorious has been so diluted by today’s tabloid-and-reality TV age. In other words, when that next show features the Connerys vs. the Pitts, maybe then you can generate some excitement with a TV staple just by putting “Celebrity” in the title.