Here’s where we are this summer on TV:
A woman dressed as Little Bo Beep comes out on stage on “The Gong Show,” the revival of a very old “talent” show that was hosted by the late Chuck Barris. Bo Peep puts a tarantula in her mouth and proceeds to play a harmonica.
The horrified judges — Will Arnett, Ken Jeong and Zach Galifianakis — stare, mouths agape. After Bo Peep finishes her song, she opens her mouth and the tarantula crawls out, unscathed.
Throw up in your mouth a little? Designed for shock value, the stunt delivers, but beyond that, there’s not much entertainment value on “The Gong Show,” or any of the other game shows that have been exhumed from the TV graveyard like extras on “The Walking Dead.”
The networks, in a wave of cynical nostalgia, have also dredged up “The Match Game,” “To Tell the Truth,” “$100,000 Pyramid” and “Love Connection,” trying to justify their place on the schedule as a “re-branding” for a “new generation” that doesn’t watch TV anyway.
Reality check: All of these are cheap to produce and fill holes in the summer schedule, but there’s nothing creative happening here. And there’s more on the way. “Battle of the Network Stars,” a popular harmless diversion from 40 years ago, will have its premiere July 29 on ABC.
So much for the era of Peak TV.
For every “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “The Crown,” there’s a batch of banal procedurals and, now, scary game shows. When your best programming idea is to bring back “The Gong Show,” you, as a network, are admitting you’re out of juice and are flatlining.
NBC, to be fair, has had a huge success with its physical-prowess contest “American Ninja Warrior” as well as “Hollywood Game Night,” but at least they’re not resurrected shows featuring stars who need new agents. Fox has come a-cropper with “Beat Shazam,” a tedious music identification show hosted by career-endangered Jamie Foxx which only draws a…