×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Mobbed

Fox's reality mavens manage to take something as weird and wonderful as flash mobs and overzealously turn it into a garish, almost vulgar prank show.

With:
With: Howie Mandel.

Fox’s reality mavens manage to take something as weird and wonderful as flash mobs — a kind of performance art, where what appear to be ordinary folks suddenly burst into choreographed dances or other actions in public settings — and overzealously turn it into a garish, almost vulgar prank show. Given his quirky standup act, it’s not surprising Howie Mandel would be drawn to the phenomenon, serving as a producer and co-creator of this effort. Mostly, though, the producers have missed what makes such mobs perfect little three-minute gems for the Web, resulting in an hourlong special that’s more foreplay than action.

Indeed, the most interesting thing about “Mobbed” is how the first two-thirds of the show pull back the curtain regarding how it’s produced. Yet despite the media-studies aspect of that, the planning simply isn’t compelling enough to sustain the hour until its ostensible payoff.

At the outset, Mandel promises to “harness the force of a flash mob” in the service of personal moments — proposals, apologies, quitting jobs, whatever — pledging that there’s “nothing we won’t do.” Hey, we’ve seen “Deal or No Deal,” no need to remind us.

Still, in practice what that really means is just an elaborate hidden-camera stunt, with a single mark being set up for a wild surprise. In this case, it’s a gal named Nikki, whose boyfriend wants to propose to her. But hey, why not do that with a cast of 800 at the Americana in Glendale? (Given the parking at the Americana, my guess is some of them are just exiting the lot.)

Normally, it’s hard to go wrong with a proposal and impromptu wedding, but “Mobbed” manages to suck the fun out of it through sheer overkill. In the process, the show mangles what makes flash mobs so buoyant — see “The Sound of Music” stunt in Belgium — albeit in bite-sized bits.

Presumably, this trial run behind “American Idol” is testing the waters for future outings, and amid Fox’s history of big concepts, at least this feel-good lark is relatively harmless.

Still, “Mobbed” seems akin to explaining a magic trick — a novelty that quickly wears off. In the case of TV, after all, it’s often easier to assemble a mob than it is to motivate them to stick around.

Mobbed

Special; Fox, Thurs. March 31, 9 p.m.

Production: Produced by the Alevy Prods. and Angel City Factory. Executive producers, Howie Mandel, Chris Cowan, Jean Michel-Michenaud, Darryl Trell, Howard Kitrosser, Kevin Healey, Michael Rotenberg, Mike Marks; co-executive producer, Kevin Tancharoen; story producer, Ashlea Crouse; editors, Jonathan Siegel, TJ Mahar; music, David Vanacore; casting, Cynthia Valle. 60 MIN.

Cast: With: Howie Mandel.

More TV

  • 'Power' Shuts Down Production After Crew

    'Power' Shuts Down Production After Crew Member Killed

    The Starz series “Power” has shut down production after an on-set accident led to the death of a production assistant early Monday morning. Pedro Jimenez, 63, was setting up traffic cones for a shoot in Brooklyn at approximately 4:20 AM ET when he was struck by a 2006 Ford Explorer, with the driver remaining at [...]

  • Fyre Festival

    Netflix to Release Fyre Festival Documentary Next Month, Debuts Trailer

    The Fyre Festival is a gift that keeps on giving for video streaming services, as Netflix today announced a documentary about the disastrous 2017 festival, which collapsed before it even started and landed its organizer, Billy McFarland, a six-year prison sentence. “Fyre” will be directed by Chris Smith, who helmed last year’s documentary “Jim & Andy: [...]

  • Tom DeLonge

    Tom DeLonge Paranormal Series 'Strange Times' in Development at TBS (EXCLUSIVE)

    Former Blink-182 member Tom DeLonge left the hugely successful band in 2015 in part to explore other opportunities, including his interest in aliens and the paranormal. His passion resulted in the acclaimed graphic novel, “Strange Times,” which is now being turned into a series for TBS. The series, which Variety can exclusively announce is being [...]

  • Jodie Whittaker Back as 'Doctor Who'

    Jodie Whittaker to Return as 'Doctor Who' in 2020 Amid Strong U.S. Ratings

    “Doctor Who” will be back on global screens in early 2020, with Jodie Whittaker returning in her groundbreaking role as the show’s first regular female timelord. The show was renewed by the BBC amid mixed overnight but strong consolidated numbers in the U.K., and strong ratings in the U.S. British viewers tuned in in droves to [...]

  • NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 06:

    Endeavor Promotes Mark Shapiro to President

    After four years overseeing content operations at IMG, Mark Shapiro has been promoted to president of Endeavor. Shapiro’s elevation to the newly created post comes as Endeavor has expanded dramatically during the past few years, starting with its acquisition of IMG in 2014. Endeavor is now the parent company of WME, IMG, UFC and other [...]

  • Watch: First Look at Scandinavian Fantasy

    Watch the First Look at Scandinavian Fantasy Series 'Hidden' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Banijay and its Scandinavian outfit Yellow Bird (“Millennium”) have unveiled the promo of the anticipated fantasy thriller series “Hidden,” which stars Izabella Scorupco (“GoldenEye”) and August Wittgenstein (“The Crown”). Commissioned by MTG Studios, “Hidden” is based on Filip Alexanderson’s novel “Förstfödd” and takes place in modern-day Stockholm, where people living on the margins discover they [...]

  • 'Americans,' 'Versace,' 'Dannemora' Lead Critics' Choice

    'Americans,' 'Gianni Versace,' 'Escape at Dannemora' Lead Critics' Choice Awards TV Nominations

    FX’s “The Americans” and “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story,” along with Showtime’s “Escape at Dannemora,” led the Broadcast Television Journalists Assn.’s nominations for the 24th annual Critics’ Choice Awards, it was revealed Monday. Joining “The Americans” in the best drama series category was “Better Call Saul” (AMC), “The Good Fight” (CBS All [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content