Picks and Pans Review: Mr. Personality

updated 05/12/2003 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/12/2003 01:00AM

FOX (Mondays, 9 p.m. ET)

As a demonstration of the perverse fusion of politics and entertainment, Monica Lewinsky hosting a FOX reality romance show might've been expected to top Viagra user Bob Dole leering at Britney Spears in those Pepsi commercials. But no. In the premiere of this five-week show, Monica, wrapped in a shawl that gave her the matronly air of a faithful duenna, merely sidled in from time to time to usher contestant Hayley Arp onto her next dating ordeal. As usual, Lewinsky's notoriety precedes her—the unstated joke here is that she already met her Mr. Personality, and he was leader of the free world—but the actual woman seems timid, insubstantial. This may change as weeks pass, but for now Lewinsky remains a footnote unsure of her place in the margins of history.

The show itself is a visually absurd twist on The Bachelorette. Arp selects a significant other from 10 finalists, judging them only on character: In the opening round, their faces were hidden by helmets. They've since switched to colored masks—red, purple, green—that make them look like pro wrestlers at different stages of headlocked asphyxiation. The suspense isn't killing me.

BOTTOM LINE: No mask appeal

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