Comedy attempts to return to TV with these ''funny'' video shows

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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