August 14, 2007 | Comments ()

By Stacey Nosek | TV | August 14, 2007 |


In spite of the hilarious name, “Mission: Man Band” incredibly managed to slip under my radar for awhile. Aside from the fact that VH1 seems to hate the show and barely promoted it (seriously, it’s not even on iTunes), I had mostly dismissed it on the assumption that it was just another series like “The White Rapper Show” which aired last year and I was completely indifferent to. Let’s put it this way — the only time I ever want to see people who are not celebrities on a reality show is if they’re vying for the romantic attention of someone who is a celebrity. Period. So you can’t even imagine my incomprehensible excitement at the discovery that I was wrong about “Mission: Man Band.” Wonderfully wrong. For as it turns out, “Mission: Man Band” is actually a collective of former boy-banders brought together to form a new ensemble — a “man band,” if you will — in a misguided attempt to recreate their former glory. Absolutely brilliant! Slow clap for you, VH1 heads of programming.

The boy-band mania of the mid to late 90’s took place when I was in college, and was therefore too busy getting wasted and finding new places to put holes in my face to take much stock in what the 13-year-olds were listening to. Fortunately, in addition to members from 98 Degrees, LFO and *NSync, that awesome bitch-goddess VH1 threw a scrap out to us Gen X’ers by bringing on a member of motherfucking Color Me Badd! Yes! When I was in eighth grade, I loved me some Color Me Badd. Hell, who didn’t? At the time, they were second only to Boyz 2 Men and maybe Kriss Kross.

The premiere episode of “Mission: Man Band” predictably serves as a vehicle to introduce the cast of characters. First up is Chris Kirkpatrick of *NSync — the one who looked like a muppet with dreadlocks — who is clearly the wealthiest and best off of the bunch, hosting this little soirĂ©e at his *NSync Mansion. Hmm… I guess it really is rewarding to have Ken dolls made in your likeness. Chris has spent the past several years employed as a drunken layabout and seems to be interested in this project mostly for shits and giggles. I suppose that’s fair enough — the guy was in *NSync after all.

Next up is Rich Cronin of LFO. I admit that I don’t know a single fucking thing about LFO, and during his bio segment a clip is helpfully played of what was probably LFO’s only hit song, “I Like Girls Who Wear Abercrombie and Fitch.” This is quite possibly the worst song I have ever heard in my life, and I immediately wish unspeakable evils upon Rich Cronin. Rich Cronin goes on to say he’s spent the past few years battling leukemia, which makes me feel guilty and kind of bad for the guy — not to mention the fact that his LFO residuals probably couldn’t pay my monthly mortgage. Rich earnestly wants to succeed at “Mission: Man Band” and now it’s just getting downright sad — so let’s move onto the next guy, Jeff Timmons of 98 Degrees. While Jeff probably doesn’t have a 98 Degrees Mansion, he seems to be doing well enough for himself, having moved past the heartthrob persona to become a “behind the scenes” guy doing producing, writing and marketing. Jeff says he’s doing this purely for fun, yet he has his apprehensions. My advice for Jeff would be to run like hell.

And finally, what we’ve all been waiting for: Bryan Abrams of Color Me Badd. If you’ll recall, Bryan was the white guy from Color Me Badd with the pervy little mustache. No, not the one who looked like George Michael, the other one. Somehow Bryan’s story manages to be more depressing than the guy with leukemia. First of all, he has virtually doubled in size, and looks like the guy who ate the guy from Color Me Badd. Second of all, he works at some kind of tire warehouse. And he doesn’t even get to use the cash register. He’s the guy who has to, like, stack the tires. I will say, for his blue-collar lifestyle, he still manages to keep his facial hair meticulously groomed, which is now the unconnected mustache-beard combo. We meet Bryan’s wife, and learn that he’s got a baby girl and another on the way. Bryan’s wife hopes something comes of this ensemble so they can pay their bills. Grief, is that it? No, he’s also a recovering alcoholic and will do whatever it takes to stay sober. VH1, on the other hand, will do whatever it takes to force alcohol down this man’s throat. Good luck with that, Bry.

The guys all arrive at the *NSync Mansion and are presented with the usual tacky reminders of their former glory. After introductions, the Man Band heads to dinner where they are to meet their manager, Katie McNeil of Tenth Street Entertainment. Katie seems about as excited at this project as VH1, and stonily regards the four guys while constantly reminding them that she’s not a fan of their music and had to go out on a limb for this project. The biggest compliment she throws them all evening is literally to tell them that they “can’t be total idiots” given their former success. Beg to differ — have you heard of this Britney chick?

Chugging along to the second episode, the guys meet their new record producer, take a stab at writing some lyrics and do some other boring Man Band related stuff. That is, until the producers Chris decides to celebrate their new endeavor by throwing the biggest party ever. But Bryan is almost like two months sober at this point, so it should be no problem for him, right? Yeah — Bryan proceeds to drink himself into a stupor off camera, and is still drunk the next day both when his personal trainer attempts to wake him for his morning workout and when Katie comes over to harass them and go over band names. Spoiler alert — (compliments of their myspace page) they go with “Sureshot,” although I think that “No Shot” or “Not a Shot in Hell” would have been more appropriate. Chris has a heart-to-heart (aww) with Bryan about his drinking, and it seems like things are going to be OK until a few hours later when he appears freshly drunk again, and this time there’s not even a party. Yep, it’s official: Bryan Abrams is off the wagon! VH1: Pushing washed up celebrities off the wagon since two thousand and something.

The episode wraps with Katie telling the Man Band she’s booked them a halftime show for the Orlando Magic in three days, despite the fact that they’ve yet to write any songs, or perform together, or even come up with a name for that matter — but I can’t say for sure I’ll be tuning back in for that performance. While the premise for “Mission: Man Band” was impressively entertaining, the novelty is unfortunately fleeting. I think the group dynamic could have benefited from the presence of an arrogant blowhard character to stir shit up and cause drama — which makes me wonder if maybe they had tried to book Jordan Knight only to have him pull out at the last moment. Unfortunately, I think these guys are all too nice, wishy-washy, or just downright depressing to captivate viewers’ attention for the long haul. That said, I look forward to catching Bryan Abrams on an upcoming season of “Celebrity Fit Club.”

Stacey Nosek is a television columnist for Pajiba, and lives in a quaint little town in rural Pennsylvania. You can also visit her blog, Litelysalted.

sureshot.jpg


"Bye Bye Bye"

"Mission: Man Band" / Stacey Nosek

TV | August 14, 2007 | Comments ()



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