When Mary J. Blige sang ``No more drama," she might have been answering the question ``What's left in the adventure reality show genre?"
Tomorrow night at 8 on Channel 7, NBC gives us a not-so-amazing race around the globe called ``Treasure Hunters" that is just so much breathlessness signifying nothing. As 10 teams of three break their necks to follow ``Da Vinci Code"-like clues leading to a treasure, they build as much excitement as an egg hunt in a chicken coop.
``Treasure Hunters" is slickly annoying right off the bat, as robotic host Laird Macintosh shoves a number of products in our faces. On their journeys, the teams will rely on a particular credit card ``with some new security features that just might unlock an opportunity down the road," and they will need to carry a particular brand of cellphone. Every time the players solve a clue, their cellphones will ring and give them information.
Oh yes, and an ``official search engine of `Treasure Hunters' " is involved. Don't ask.
This commercialism is the first hurdle for viewers, after which boredom and futility become the notable challenges. For the 30 players, the hurdles involve sillier tasks, as they figure out Morse code in order to solve a riddle in order to swim to a boat in order to find a this to get to a that. Along the way, everyone remains polite and firmly motivated, with almost none of the cutthroat maneuvering that gives ``Survivor" its veneer of psychological drama. This is a treasure hunt without any pirates.
In keeping with the rules of reality TV, the ``Treasure Hunters" teams are types, displaying few qualities that don't match their monikers -- the Young Professionals, the Grad Students, and, of course, the Miss USAs. Only the Geniuses are ironically titled. The most relevant team is the Southie Boys, three men who grew up in South Boston and who boast about their street smarts. Two of the guys, twin brothers Matt and Martin Mullen, now live in California -- but don't worry, their accents are intact.
Most of the players blur together, although a determined pastor stands out. This man of God plays for keeps. So does a mullet-wearing dude named Pat, who provides some much-needed comic relief.
Oddly, ``Treasure Hunters" is loaded with breathtaking locations and yet feels static, more like Dungeons & Dragons or some kind of theoretical game. The tension of the contest doesn't really seem to exist, except in writing on the screen. We're told which team is winning or losing in small titles, but the action itself -- the climbing, diving, running, digging -- has no intrinsic drive.
And we have to watch each team go through the same paces, as they figure out the same clues and perform the same activities. The ``Treasure Hunters" competition has been split, so that five teams start in Hawaii and five teams start in Alaska, so we do follow two sets of challenges. But still, there's a lot of repetition of exercises that aren't exactly thrilling to begin with.
I say just give 'em the darn doubloons so everyone can get off this tedious theme park ride.
Matthew Gilbert can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.