Celebs try but can't save misguided 'Mole'

Times Staff Writer

Into every reality TV fan's life a little rain must fall, but the stuff comes down in buckets tonight at 10 as ABC unleashes the first episode of the six-part "Celebrity Mole Hawaii." This misguided mess of a series, a supposedly glitzed-up version of the network's dubious "Mole" franchise, plops seven actor-types in the islands to compete for up to $250,000. Sportscaster Ahmad Rashad is the host, presiding over a cast that includes Stephen Baldwin ("The Usual Suspects"), Corbin Bernsen ("L.A. Law"), Michael Boatman ("Arliss"), Kim Coles ("In Living Color"), supermodel Frederique, comedian Kathy Griffin ("Suddenly Susan") and Erik von Detten ("Princess Diaries").

One of these folks has been selected by the show's producers to undermine surreptitiously the efforts of the remaining six as they go through a series of convoluted stunts, each worth a chunk of cash toward the grand prize. Each week, one person is banished, or "executed," based on test questions aimed at ferreting out the identity of the mole, and one can win an exemption from taking the test.

Although the early buzz questioned how much star-power this "celebrity" panel actually brings to the table, they're not the problem here. Griffin is a hoot, Bernsen and Baldwin bluster and bicker with the best of them, and Rashad is inadvertently amusing as he solemnly channels Jeff Probst ("Welcome to your first execution; for one of you, the journey will end here"). No, the problems lie in the confusing and tedious stunts (filling buckets from a waterfall, herding sheep), the flat, unfocused downtime between bits and the ill-conceived test segment.

Celebrities or not, this mole should have stayed in its hole.

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