It's rare for a television show to pose a simple question and offer a definitive answer. "But Can They Sing?" (VH1, Sundays, 10 p.m. ET) is the exception. The title is the question. Are you ready for the answer? No.
"They," in this case, are a stable of celebrities who can only dream of life on the C-List — noted fashion disaster Bai Ling, noted wooden hunk Antonio Sabato, Jr., and not-even-noted actor Michael Copon, who (really!) played the blue Power Ranger.
The obscure cast, in short, makes the group from "Dancing With The Stars" look like the guest list for an intimate brunch and Jacuzzi party at Jerry Bruckheimer's house.
The upside is that a select few of the "singers" are not quite tooth-rattlingly awful. Joe Pantoliano's cheesy Sinatra impersonation is one you'd warmly praise if he were a relative who was generous with the birthday gifts. And Morgan Fairchild respectably covered "These Boots Are Made For Walkin'," wedding-karaoke style.
But most were not so fortunate. Former supermodel Kim Alexis tunelessly wobbled through "The Way You Love Me" in a way eerily reminiscent of Cameron Diaz in "My Best Friend's Wedding," and boxer Larry Holmes shouted "I Got You (I Feel Good)."
It's painfully clear that several of the performers, including not only the very earnest Alexis, but also cherubic Spanish television broadcaster Myrka Dellanos, who offered "Don't Know Why" with a flower in her hair and no notion of pitch whatsoever, are really trying.
Like the sad "American Idol" contestants in the opening rounds — not the ones in cow suits trying to get on TV by being wretched, but the shattered-dreams people — they're up there doing their best.
And in some cases, say, Bai Ling writhing around on the stage while droning "Like A Virgin," that's a pretty frightening thought.
Linda Holmes is a writer in Bloomington, Minn.