August 27, 2009 at 05:00 PM EDT

First things first: Am I the only one who didn’t know that Dan Cortese pronounces his last name in three syllables?

Okay, now we can talk about Crash Course, ABC’s latest reality offering that really should be on Spike. Each week, five pairs compete in various driving challenges for $50,000 and the “coveted Golden Steering Wheel.” Cortese and Orlando Jones emcee the festivities from a should-be-safe distance (although, in last night’s premiere, two cameramen almost got taken out). I would say the hosts are the best thing about this show. Jones is quick enough to mock the contestants; Cortese has mastered the look of dismay when one of his jokes goes over their heads. (It can happen!) The challenges, however, were pretty much a letdown.

Slip Slidin’ Away: A car is towed, then released on a giant shuffleboard. The team scores points depending on what numbered area the left front tire of their car stops in. To quote Ty from Team Roommates, “I don’t know what I did, but I did it!” Watching people spin out is boring for anyone who’s ever seen any kind of car race. Grade: D

• Catch Me If You Can: My favorite of the events. The team’s driver has to get the car on the back of a moving flatbed truck in the shortest amount of time. What saves you from fast-forwarding is the fact that some people are stupid and make their move on a turn instead of a straightaway, so they end up driving off the ramp and flipping the car; others who make it up onto the flatbed decide they want to flip the car anyway. Enjoy the runs of Team Siblings (the latter) and Team Roommates (the former, who also bring out the best in Jones: “Weaves have been known to do a lot of damage”). Grade: B

• Car Dominos: An obstacle course in which the team’s driver has to take out the supports of multiple standing cars. If they hit the cars themselves, they may or may not explode with pyrotechnics. This is actually a total snooze unless the team is way out of control, like the Roommates were. Even then, all you’re seeing is donuts and a car falling on top of them. Grade: C-

• Crash Course: The final two teams compete is this mega obstacle course, and the fastest finish takes the title. After driving through a wall of barrels and some dropped tires, they do a little off-roading in a mud pit, then weave their way between flaming cars in “Wreck Alley.” The team then switches drivers — while being pelted by high-pressure water hoses. The new driver has to reverse through the next part of the course, then choose between two doors with hidden dangers (i.e. water barrel). They then drive through an animal crossing section where they try to avoid large wooden animals and fail. They smash through an exploding wall, maybe catch a little air or on fire. And, the end. Interesting to see once. Not interesting enough to make me tune in again. Grade: C+

Did you catch Crash Course? What did you think? If you were behind the wheel, would you go slow and steady or floor it because when else are you gonna get to flip a car and (theoretically) not have to worry about dying?

P.S. Watching these teammates bicker made me long for The Amazing Race. At this point, seeing a married couple argue about driving is just cliché.


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