Lynch makes Hol­ly­wood Game Night watch­able

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NORTHWEST/TELEVISION - MICHAEL STOREY The TV Col­umn ap­pears Sun­day, Tues­day and Thurs­day. Email: mstorey@arkansason­

It’s Thurs­day. It’s sum­mer. It’s hot. That means it’s a heavy night for lightweight net­work game shows or “al­ter­na­tive” pro­grams.

Hol­ly­wood Game Night is less friv­o­lous than the others, how­ever, and I credit the marvelous Jane Lynch (Glee) with mak­ing it so. That and a dearth of scream­ing, overly ebul­lient con­tes­tants bounc­ing around the stage like hy­per­ac­tive kid­dies on a sugar high.

Lynch has won a cou­ple of Em­mys for her host­ing du­ties on the show.

Hol­ly­wood Game Night is in full swing for Sea­son 5 and airs at 7 p.m. to­day on NBC with the episode “Game Night Is the New Black.” The ti­tle would ex­plain a cou­ple of the celebri­ties play­ing the party games tonight.

Natasha Ly­onne is in the Net­flix se­ries Or­ange Is the

New Black, as is Dascha Polanco. They play Nicky Ni­chols and Daya Diaz, re­spec­tively.

Celebrity sta­tus is al­ways in the eye of the be­holder, but if you’re a fan of Or­ange, you’ll know who they are.

Also on hand are Taye Diggs (Pri­vate Prac­tice), co­me­dian Matt Ise­man, Olympic gym­nast Gabby Dou­glas and Cheryl Hines (Curb Your En­thu­si­asm).

(Trivia: Hines mar­ried Robert F. Kennedy Jr. in 2014.) In case you haven’t caught Hol­ly­wood Game Night be­fore, here’s how it works.

Two teams of four play­ers each play a se­ries of what NBC touts as “out­ra­geous and hi­lar­i­ous” party games. Each team con­sists of three celebri­ties and a non­celebrity cap­tain.

The celebs are play­ing for their fa­vorite char­i­ties; the real peo­ple are go­ing for the $25,000 grand prize in the bonus round.

About the se­ries, Lynch told Pa­rade mag­a­zine, “The most fun is just stand­ing back and watch­ing peo­ple have fun. I can al­ways count on the celebri­ties to jump in there. What makes each show unique and fun for me is that it’s a whole new dy­namic and they never let me down.

“I have never had a bad show where I had to pull teeth in or­der to get peo­ple to have fun. So it’s kind of a show that hosts it­self, in a way.”

More fillers. If you want more sum­mer filler shows, The Wall fol­lows Hol­ly­wood

Game Night at 8 p.m. on NBC. Be­gin­ning at 7 p.m., ABC of­fers Boy Band, the some­what de­press­ing Bat­tle of the

Net­work Stars, and The Gong

Show, a pale shadow of the orig­i­nal.

CBS has Big Brother (my fa­vorite guilty plea­sure) at 8 p.m.

Fox brings us Beat Shazam at 7 p.m., fol­lowed by Love

Con­nec­tion. I’ve not writ­ten about ei­ther of these be­fore, so here goes. Beat Shazam boasts Jamie Foxx as host. Se­ri­ously, how many game shows have an Os­car-win­ning host? Foxx earned his stat­uette for play­ing Ray Charles in Ray.

In Beat Shazam, teams of two play­ers each com­pete to iden­tify some of the great­est hit songs of all time. In each round, the teams have a choice of two mu­sic cat­e­gories. When a song is played, each team must try to be the first to iden­tify the cor­rect ti­tle. Low­est team is elim­i­nated un­til only one re­mains.

The last team stand­ing goes up against the song iden­ti­fi­ca­tion app, Shazam, for a chance to win big bucks.

Trivia: Foxx’s real name is Eric Mar­ion Bishop. He chose his stage sur­name as a trib­ute to the late co­me­dian Redd Foxx.

More trivia: Redd Foxx’s real name was John El­roy San­ford. Love Con­nec­tion. This is a one-hour re­boot of the orig­i­nal syn­di­cated dat­ing show that aired from 1983 to 1994 with Chuck Wool­ery as host. There was a brief at­tempt to re­launch the thing in 1998 with Pat Bullard as host. It didn’t last.

Fox notes that host Andy Co­hen’s ver­sion “amps up the orig­i­nal hit show for to­day’s au­di­ences.” I’m not cer­tain what that means, but it sounds omi­nous.

In each episode, sin­gle men and/or women “in search of ro­mance” are sent on blind dates. They then “dish the dirt in front of a live stu­dio au­di­ence, as Co­hen, the well­known provo­ca­teur, brings his per­sonal brand of au­da­cious fun to the se­ries.”

Aside: Why do the net­works al­ways say it’s a “live” stu­dio au­di­ence? What other kind of stu­dio au­di­ence is there?

Provo­ca­teur? Dirt dished to Co­hen can be fairly snarky for dates gone bad and the au­di­ence seems to have the ap­pro­pri­ate re­ac­tion of hoot­ing and hol­ler­ing.

“I was a huge fan of the orig­i­nal Love Con­nec­tion,”

Co­hen said in a Fox in­ter­view, “and host­ing the new ver­sion al­lows me to do one of the things I love most — med­dling in peo­ple’s per­sonal lives.”

Co­hen also hosts the nightly 10 p.m. Bravo se­ries Watch What Hap­pens Live With Andy Co­hen. Bravo notes Co­hen is the first openly gay host of an Amer­i­can late-night talk show.

Jane Lynch (left) watches as Cheryl Hines gives clues on tonight’s episode of Hol­ly­wood Game Night on NBC.

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