Picks and Pans Review: Karaoke Showcase

updated 07/20/1992 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/20/1992 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Syndicated (Check local listings)

D+

On a fishing trip in the Poconos recently, I passed a number of rural roadhouses, each one of which seemed to have a sign outside promoting its karaoke night. Now the barroom singing phenomenon, which started in Japan, has its own TV show.

Gee, this karaoke thing is bigger than I thought. It's also more atrocious.

This program is an amateur showcase in which people who are identified as waiters, dental assistants and the like sing well-known pop songs to taped musical backings. The host is Jon Bauman, better known as Bowzer of Sha Na Na, a guy who used to be a bad Fonzie imitator and now is a bad Bob Saget imitator. The quality of the contestants ranges from Gong Show reject all the way up to not-ready-for-Star Search. It's taped at Universal Studios in Orlando in front of a crowd of dazed tourists who were no doubt lured into the amphitheater with those three magic words: "It's air-conditioned inside."

Still, this is a step or two up from those lip-synch shows like Putting on the Hits or MTV's Lip Service. A few more steps up and it'll be in the basement.

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