Smear campaigns, backstabbing, wagging tongues, and wrist slapping. These are the ploys used to punish and promote in Hollywood, if all the talk surrounding this year's 74th Annual Academy Awards was true. Wouldn't it be nice if to settle disputes, all you had to do was come to a level playing field, play fair, do your best, and maybe have a few laughs in the process? How or where could such a thing happen? On Comedy Central, of course.
Returning for its second bizarre season is Comedy Central's surprise hit, Let's Bowl. This isn't your daddy's bowling show, one of those dry events that ran on Saturday afternoons with a pair or more of very serious competitors, bowling for trophies and titles. On the flipside, Let's Bowl, which began as a cable access show in Minneapolis, is a half-hour of music, go-go dancers, and play-by-play hosts Wally (Rich Kronfeld) and Chopper (Steve Sedahl). Oh yeah, there's bowling too.
The premise is simple: Two contestants with a score to settle come together to bowl a standard set of 10 frames to put their dispute to rest once and for all. Past beefs include brothers deciding who is really their mother's favorite, male roommates arguing about a girlfriend who spends too much time at the apartment, unsettled bills, and other petty and not so petty disputes. The premiere episode features married couple Deb and Chris. If Deb wins, Chris has to get a vasectomy. If Chris wins, his boys continue to swim. The winner is the one with the highest score, but no one walks away empty-handed. Additional goodies include used snow blowers, a year's supply of herring, ice-fishing equipment, and other prizes of dubious value.
Part of the appeal of the series in its first year was how it managed to do so much with so little. This year's obviously larger budget has managed to add some welcome zest to the show without destroying the show's original goofiness. Returning with hosts Wally and Chopper are the "Queen Pins," Lisa Bartholomew and Amanda Brewer, who work as go-go dancing cheerleaders and Vanna White-like showgirls. A regular fixture this year is Ernie on the organ (Drew Jansen), providing background music and occasionally starring in the offbeat (and borderline tasteless) filmed vignettes, "Inside Bowling." In the premiere episode, Ernie describes his life outside Let's Bowl. With his scrubbed schoolboy good looks, cravat, and a mildly demented plastic smile, Ernie explains how he does voiceovers for porn movies when he's not entertaining his elderly (and rich), wheelchair-bound wife and her gaggle of shriveled friends. How he keeps his woman "satisfied" is both slimy and screamingly funny.
Another added feature is a different Minneapolis-area band playing in and out of commercial breaks. The Vibro Champs are featured in the season premiere, but my favorite is Ruth Adams and the World's Most Dangerous Polka Band, who appear in the second episode.
Future episodes feature a father and son bowling over a tattoo and roommates settling their difference of opinion on walking around naked in front of each other's boyfriends.
Let's Bowl premieres Monday, April 8, 7pm on Comedy Central. Check listings for encore airtimes.