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Tonight I sampled FOX’s promising new reality series The Complex: Malibu, and all I have to say is “huh?” That’s not a “huh” of disappointment. Just one of mere confusion. You see, I wasn’t a very diligent viewer tonight. I tuned in at around 9:15 – a good hour and fifteen minutes into the two hour premiere; so it was pretty much my own damn fault for having to spend a good half an hour just trying to figure out who was who and what they all were working on. At the same time, I feel like I might not have been better off had I started watching from the beginning. Here’s a brief rundown of the rules. Eight couples are split into two teams that will renovate one multi-leveled complex of four apartments. The first team will tackle the two apartments in the upper complex while the second team will take on the bottom. Each team will then break into two groups of four (that’s two couples each), and each group will then renovate one room of one apartment. Why, that’s not hard to follow at all. But wait, there’s more!At the end of each episode, a trio of experts in the realm of architecture, interior design, and real estate grade each room and assess which one adds the most value to the complex and which one adds the least. Whichever team has the suckiest room has to evict a couple, but don’t get excited for some simple, streamlined tribal council meets Paige Davis moment. No, in The Complex, everyone votes (except the group leader) to evict, and then the host presents the two nominated teams. Only then do we find out which room is the lamest and who will be going home. It’s as if we don’t find out who wins immunity in Survivor until after the Tribal Councils.
When I wasn’t trying to play catchup on the rules, I was attempting to catalogue the sixteen (oy) new cast members into my reality database. The truth is that I really didn’t see enough to make any qualified opinions on the people, but I must say that I do love the feisty old couple whose room the realtor described as “Oxnard or San Bernadino”, but definitely NOT Malibu. Why would he say that? Just because the non-ironic wood panelling was reminiscent of A Very Brady Interior Design?
Despite their stylistic handicaps, the old couple – Barney and Rose as they’re commonly referred to – were great during a heated fight at the “lumberyard” – aka some poorly lit backdrop (READ: soundstage) for an elimination ceremony. Ultimately, it was the nice couple of Monique and Sanyika that was sent on a walk of shame down the lumberyard of splintered dreams.
One thing that disturbed me was the trend of celebrity lookalikes in the cast. The chipper host looked like a low rent Noah Wyle, nominee Carl looked like a buffer John Stewart, intense strategizer Steve looked like a blonde Danny Bonnaducci, dentally challenged Sam looked like a white trash Sharon Osbourne, and aforementioned Barney looked like a fat John Spencer.
With the fall season about to come on strong, I’m not sure if I’ll be able to add another TV show onto my weekly viewing, but The Complex was quite fun, and I may try to catch a few more episodes. Luckily the regular Friday timeslot should ensure that I’ll miss most of the new shows.