"It's the show they didn't want you to see," the narrator said at the opening of ABC's "The Glass House," leaving viewers who haven't been following the business section or trades to wonder just exactly who "they" are.
After an interminable hour, it was pretty clear "they" was anybody who knows what's good for you.
For the record, CBS went to court to try to prevent ABC from airing "The Glass House" -- the new reality show that premiered Monday night -- claiming the concept was a direct ripoff of its own summer staple, "Big Brother."
ABC shouldn't be ashamed about the series copying "Big Brother." Let's be honest: There's not a lot of honor among thieves in the genre, and a lot of shows look and sound alike. No, their sin is aping the CBS show's mannerisms in a completely empty, boring, unimaginative way.
ABC promised the show would take "interactive storytelling to the next level," allowing fans to steer the actions of the 14 contestants sequestered in the house. But it's all window dressing, other than the disembodied voice -- think Harriet 9000 -- who provides the players direction, telling them what "the viewers" have supposedly chosen for them to do.
As one of those viewers, here's a vote for everyone to take Ritalin, chill out and stop posturing for the cameras. Instead, we were treated to instant chaos and challenges, involving people -- other than their well-toned bodies -- there's no reason to care about one whit, starting with 25-year-old Alex, who decided he wants to emerge as the house "villain" by running around insulting everyone, like a poor man's Don Rickles.
CBS officials should rest easy, since it's unlikely something this slapdash will detract from "Big Brother," if only because it's the established brand in guilty summer scheming and banality.
That said, the whole notion of networks filing lawsuits over reality shows brings to mind an old adage -- something about advice to those who live in glass houses. And trust me, watching 14 nincompoops sit around throwing stones would be every bit as entertaining as enduring another episode like this.
Executive producer, Kenny Rosen; co-executive producers, Michael O'Sullivan, Rebekah Fry; senior supervising producer, Alan S. Winter; director, Anthony J. Gonzales; supervising casting producer, Scott Salyers.