Picks and Pans Review: The '70s House

updated 07/11/2005 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/11/2005 AT 01:00 AM EDT

MTV (Tuesdays, 10:30 p.m. ET)

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In PBS's hit series Colonial House, the pretend settlers had to live like it was 1628, complete with manual labor, no electricity and chamber pots. Living 1970s-style doesn't come close on the roughin' it scale, but for the dozen college-age kids who unwittingly land on MTV's own era-switch series, cell phones and e-mail are as crucial to survival as food or water. "My iPod is like my sanity," says one, after all modern gadgets are carted away. "My cell phone is literally like my child," moans another. The whole gang is soon in head-to-toe polyester, learning to work an 8-track and getting the low-down on '70s lingo from the show's hostess, Dawn, played to great, oversexed effect by Natasha Leggero. If the kids don't live authentically to the era, they risk being eliminated, as one guy learns after discussing plans to be Botoxed. (Last one standing wins a 2005 Beetle, among other prizes.) Chock-full of challenges, the show could use more downtime and less Dawn time. Best moments: all 12 dancing an impromptu Hustle and trying to appreciate gooey fondue. As one guy puts it: "This is a fun-don't. The show however, is a fun-do.

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