Bruce Fretts
December 12, 1997 AT 05:00 AM EST

Much has been made of the surfeit of ”scary” video specials on the airwaves these days (e.g., parts 1, 2, and 3 of When Animals Attack and The World’s Scariest Police Chases). But another type of reality program is currently enjoying even greater ratings success: the so-called ”funny” video shows. And some of them are really scary. Here’s a quick rundown:

Kids Say the Darndest Things (CBS, premieres as a series Friday, Jan. 9, 8-8:30 p.m.) HOST: Bill Cosby, pulling double duty while still starring on his CBS sitcom, Cosby CONCEPT: Cos chats with tots about topics from kissing to the Bible. RECYCLED MATERIAL: Eerily well-preserved octogenarian Art Linkletter introduces footage of precocious kids from his 1952-69 CBS daytime show House Party. SAMPLE KNEE-SLAPPER: A 6-year-old boy explains girls are different because they have two X chromosomes, then adds, ”But this isn’t The XX Files” (and they swear this thing isn’t scripted!).

Candid Camera (CBS, currently airing as specials, premieres as a series later this season) HOST: Peter Funt, taking over the reins from his equally untelegenic (and currently infirm) father, Allen CONCEPT: Elaborate stunts are set up to catch unsuspecting surveillees ”in the act of being themselves.” RECYCLED MATERIAL: Vintage segments are restaged to see if people react the same way today (surprise, guys still don’t like to hold their wives’ purses). SAMPLE KNEE-SLAPPER: A ”pretty girl” climbs up a ladder to see if men will look up her skirt — then the gag is role-reversed as ladies peek up a Scotsman’s kilt!

America’s Funniest Home Videos (ABC, returns as a series on Monday, Jan. 5, 8-9 p.m.) HOSTS: MTV refugee Daisy Fuentes and VH1 vet John Fugelsang, taking over for Full House‘s Bob Saget (deemed too unhip for this revamped version) CONCEPT: Here’s a hint — the ”G” in the show’s TV-G rating might as well stand for groin injuries. RECYCLED MATERIAL: Such allegedly classic clips as ”Cat Falls Off TV” (1990) are inducted into the ”Hall of Fame.” SAMPLE KNEE-SLAPPER: A grandmother-to-be gets so excited upon hearing the news of her daughter’s pregnancy she wets her pants!

The World’s Funniest! (Fox, Sundays, 7-8 p.m.) HOST: James Brown, trying to take away his namesake’s title as Hardest-Working Man in Show Business by doing this show while also anchoring Fox’s NFL Sunday CONCEPT: Hey, ABC’s America’s Funniest Home Videos worked as counterprogramming to CBS’ 60 Minutes — let’s do the same thing! RECYCLED MATERIAL: Outtakes from MTV’s The Real World (loved seeing bitchy Flora from Miami get nailed by a backdrop) SAMPLE KNEE-SLAPPER: A prankster steals bags out of strangers’ grocery carts to see how they react (some stand there slack-jawed, others chase the guy!).

Bloopers (NBC, currently airing as specials with tongue-twisting titles like All-Star TV Censored Show Me the Bloopers, may return as a series later this season) HOST: Dick Clark — also the show’s exec producer — who utters such scintillating intros as ”You know, we’ve had some really, really great Coach bloopers…” CONCEPT: Putting the Harvey Korman Principle to the test, Bloopers believes there’s nothing funnier than watching a celebrity crack up. RECYCLED MATERIAL: Are you kidding? This whole show is recycled. SAMPLE KNEE-SLAPPER: The Single Guy‘s Ernest Borgnine blows a line, then declares: ”Well, we [bleep]ed that one up pretty good!”

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