**½/**** Image B+ Sound B+
by Bill Chambers The only reality-TV (whatever that oxymoron means) series I watch, "blind date" has a crack writing staff, photogenic--and certifiable--'contestants,' and editing that's breezy without feeling clipped. For the uninitiated: Cameras follow a couple apparently arbitrarily but more often, one imagines, cruelly matched on their first date and, in the vein of pop-up video, word balloons and subtitles provide patronizing though often uproarious and surreal commentary on the proceedings. My personal favourite moment of the show to date is the oblivious bodybuilder who is asked what he is thinking by his companion: a thought-bubble appears above his head containing a chicken smoking a cigarette. Mostly these asides are, as Homer Simpson would say, funny 'cause they're true.
At first you don't know what to make of framing host Roger Lodge, who seems plastic in that way of American broadcasters but has a humanizing corny streak. It wasn't until I saw the "blind date: UNCENSORED" DVD, new from Mantra Entertainment, that I became fully conscious of Lodge's integral contribution to the show--he brings closure to the rendezvous, a much-needed last word so that the audience can say, "Yeah, dude, totally." The disc scrapes by without him thanks to oodles of nudity (no sense pussyfooting around), but it's a shame that Lodge wasn't brought aboard to introduce the clips and give them context.
A jumble of excerpts, then, "blind date: UNCENSORED" is actually more of a best-of than an outtakes compilation, with the uncensored footage tempered with less controversial material that aired intact. And while the 42-minute running time may sound short for the money, the length satiates a porn appetite and leaves room for future volumes. Less is certainly more when dealing with the exhibitionists who sign up for "blind date", and for as entertaining the show is, its frequent deterioration into amateur erotica speaks to a Warholian desperation that can be surprisingly asexual, as it's all just mugging.
The DVD collection is at its best, or at least its most compelling, when said mugging turns sinister and an individual half-sane to start with mistakes the camera for a symptom of charisma. The disc ends, for instance, with the creepiest, most squirm-induing goodbye imaginable, in which a sleazy "nice guy" tries repeatedly to kiss his pretty (and pretty reluctant) date on the porch of her house. As she escapes his eighth or ninth attempted smooch, he whispers, in a tacky, sensitive-man voice, "It's your life... take a chance..." The poor girl can only reply, "I'll take a chance when I'm ready."
Other high/lowlights of "blind date: UNCENSORED" include: the iconic "diggidi-yeah diggidi-yeah" (I think that's what she's saying) ass-slapping blonde on two dates, one the source of an immortal line as a polite Dutch man built like Schwarzenegger observes of her "only 34D" breasts, "They are terribly huge;" the audition tape of a brunette bombshell wherein she defends the act of, don't shoot the messenger, swallowing; and a good old-fashioned nipple-piercing. The image on the fullscreen DVD looks identical to if not better than broadcast cable--ditto for the sound. One long bonus feature, the disc lacks extras of any kind. Originally published: February 6, 2003.