boston.com News your connection to The Boston Globe
TELEVISION REVIEW

This 'Wedding Crashers' deserves chilly reception

Ben Gleib and others try to pull pranks on wedding guests. (Tana Hayes/NBC)

My first impulse was to describe "The Real Wedding Crashers" as "juvenile," but the word could possibly imply that there might be a hint of a chance of fun, and that would be misleading. Also, "juvenile" carries with it a superior tone that I should probably save up for more worthy idiocy, such as "Flavor of Love," which is dumb and irritating but somehow not quite as far beneath contempt.

And so I turned to a pair of "dis" words -- "disastrous" and "disappointing" -- because I most certainly do want to dis this new reality show, which premieres tonight at 10 on Channel 7. After the entertaining return of "Heroes" at 9, "The Real Wedding Crashers" is certainly disappointing in its disastrousness. Essentially, brides and grooms prank their own weddings with a team of undercover cons who do annoying things to make the guests uncomfortable. But the guests ultimately don't care that a waiter is eating appetizers, or that the priest is getting names wrong. Instead of the "What!" of the victims of "Punk'd," which is from the same producers, we get a mild "So what."

And so the "dis" words, tempting as they are, don't fully capture the flatness and emptiness of the venture, the full-on tedium of watching a wedding party shrug its collective shoulders while the "crashers," including Gareth, Cat, Steve, and Ben , put on a lame ruse. Would "hollow" be the best word? Or is "devoid" more expressive? And furthermore, is a surprise a surprise when the surprisee is not surprised by the surpriser? If a tree fell in the middle of the party, would that make the celebration somehow more memorable? The mind wanders as the prank wears on, exploring new corners of futility.

My mind wandered to a better word: "desperate." After trying and failing to hold onto the large "Heroes" audience with "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" and then "The Black Donnellys," NBC is desperately turning to the flimsiest of reality TV efforts to attract viewers. Since quality-drama writer-producers Aaron Sorkin and Paul Haggis couldn't deliver ratings, the network has thrown up its hands in desperation and grabbed a turkey from thin air. Yes, "desperate" could work, especially since it includes recklessness and hastiness. Because I need to believe that NBC executives rushed into "The Real Wedding Crashers" instead of buying any of the many other reality concepts for sale. They couldn't have chosen it carefully, right?

Perhaps NBC thought "The Real Wedding Crashers" would have some of the charm of the 2005 movie "The Wedding Crashers," starring Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn. Or perhaps, NBC thought we would think "The Real Wedding Crashers" would have some of its charm and tune in. In that case, the best word might be "disingenuous," since the show is but a shadow of the movie, which itself was a shadow of other, better wedding comedies.

OK, so is "The Real Wedding Crashers" juvenile, disappointing, disastrous, hollow, devoid, desperate, or disingenuous? Let's just say the show is "bad," plain and simple, and leave it at that.

'Related'

The Real Wedding Crashers

On: NBC, Channel 7

Time: Tonight, 10-11

SEARCH THE ARCHIVES