Picks and Pans Review: Banzai

updated 07/21/2003 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/21/2003 AT 01:00 AM EDT

FOX (Sundays, 8:30 p.m. ET)

This tacky reality game show imported from Britain stirred controversy here even before its July 13 debut. A commercial for Banzai depicted one of the show's stunts: The attaching of helium balloons to a chicken to send the fowl soaring skyward. After a San Francisco birdbrain duplicated that dubious feat, animal-rights activists squawked. As we went to press, FOX was mulling whether to yank the segment or run it with a disclaimer. But Banzai will ruffle a lot of other feathers. Its maniacally gleeful all-Asian cast of tricksters evokes the worst stereotypes from World War II movies, and its use of amputees, little people and the elderly as fodder for Jackass-style contests should make you wince--as I did during a June 20 bit in which Diff'rent Strokes alum Todd Bridges loses to a dog in a go-fetch contest. Go click your remote. BOTTOM LINE: A bonanza of bad taste

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