''Being Bobby Brown'': A tour of the stars' homes
When is a bonus episode not really much of a bonus at all? When the series in question is Being Bobby Brown, and the real star of the show, Whitney Houston, isn't in every scene.
Mind you, Whitney's turn tonight as ''madwoman of the mansion'' was riveting stuff; I'm just not certain it justified extending Being Bobby Brown's initial eight-episode order by an extra week. (A tenth installment, basically a best-of clip show, airs next Thursday.) That said, I have to hand it to Houston. Hers may not be the prettiest of realities (especially considering that she checked herself into rehab at some point after this series was shot), but it somehow feels like a truer reality than what we get from Britney and Kevin, or even Nick and Jessica. When the jittery diva convulses on the couch while howling ''Born to Be Wild'' or swooshes through the house in her Norma Desmond leopard-print housecoat while blathering about how, rather than playing with dolls as a child, she ''burned the motherf---ers' a-- up,'' she's still every bit the superstar, one who I suspect wouldn't act a wee bit different if all those cameras just up and left. Maybe that's why whether you're laughing with her or at her or just saying a silent prayer on her behalf you can't take your eyes off her. Genuineness is appealing, even when it's genuinely scary.
After a combined four-and-a-half hours of original episodes, though, there's not much reason left to spend time with Bobby. Sure, he seems like a friendly guy and a halfway-decent parent, but how many times can I be asked to watch him crack open a beer, reference some hurl-worthy part of his body (this week's culprit: his unfortunate toes), or participate in prefab antics that even he doesn't seem to be enjoying.
I've gotten so bored with Being Bobby Brown's titular star, in fact, that I actually had a hard time narrowing down to five the list of reasons Bravo should have limited the series to eight episodes.
1. Those pervy voice-overs How come Bobby's manic speaking voice turns into an uncomfortably seductive mumble whenever he's delivering commentary about even the most mundane on-screen action? ''Me and my wife decided to go back to Jersey,'' he says, and all I want to do is take a nice, long Silkwood shower.
2. The unfunny accents Whether he's trying to imitate a Russian, a Jamaican, or a Brit, Bobby always ends up sounding the same excruciating.
3. That grating theme song If for some reason I'm destined to go to hell, I'll know I have arrived when the fiery gates open and I hear those opening strains: ''It's just me, y'all....'' Gah!
4. The domestic-violence jokes Dude, your series kicked off with you in court, facing charges of hitting your wife. Maybe you should refrain from saying things like ''One more word out of your mouth...,'' especially in front of your daughter. (Yeah, I know it'd be easier if your wife wasn't constantly instigating by threatening to raise a hand to you, but still...)
5. The constant, manic need for attention Tonight's episode, we got to see Bobby screaming like a colicky infant at the go-kart track. Look, if you can't get the public's attention with an entire camera crew on your tail, maybe you're just not that interesting.
And now, what's worse, this week we got treated to the couple's political differences, which boiled down to something like cigarettes are worse than terrorists, and Bush is bad (Bobby), and don't talk about the president, he protects us from anthrax and SARS, and ''kiss my ass!'' (Whitney).
With this gobbledygook now stuck in my brain, is it any wonder that (like Bobby) I'm now refusing any beverage that doesn't contain alcohol? At this rate, if Being Bobby Brown gets renewed for a second season, I'll be swishing my Colgate with gin and tonic.
What do you think? Have you had enough of the Brown family? Do you think we're seeing the real Whitney, or was she playing to the cameras? And what ''highlights'' are you hoping (or dreading) to see next week?