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‘Carolla’ should keep pimple-popping private

Infertility, home construction make for odd mix on TLC show
/ Source: contributor

TLC made its once-powerful reputation with "Trading Spaces," which pioneered home-improvement shows and noncompetitive "how-to" entries like TLC's own "Clean Sweep" (focusing on home organization) and "For Better Or For Worse" (allowing a couple's family and friends to plan their wedding).

But times are changing, and much of the action right now is in celebrity chronicles — shows like VH1's "Breaking Bonaduce" and Bravo's recent "Being Bobby Brown."

TLC, in dire need of a hit following the precipitous decline of "Trading Spaces," tries to merge the home-improvement and celebrity genres with "The Adam Carolla Project" (Tuesdays, 10 p.m. ET), in which radio and TV host Carolla oversees an incompetent crew while trying to renovate a house he hopes to sell for a million dollars. Back at home, Carolla and his wife are trying to have a baby.

While the idea of mixing successful formulas is tempting, the results here are unsatisfying. For one thing, at an hour long, episodes drag interminably.

This week's show featured Carolla canceling a trip to Hawaii with his wife, patching a beam with plywood, and popping a pimple on the back of one of his friends — an operation shown in distasteful detail. A mid-level celebrity and a lot of imprecise hammering just doesn't fill an entire hour.

Furthermore, the appeal of Carolla's radio persona is partly that he often seems accidentally smart, like he's delivering advice directly from his id and occasionally hit a random home run. Here, reduced to haranguing his crew and spouting one-liners about infertility treatments, his appeal as a skilled reactor is lost.

There may indeed be a way to combine learning a skill with gawking at celebrities, but if TLC is looking to regain some of the ground it's lost, it will have to look to something other than Adam Carolla's construction delays and infertility problems.

Linda Holmes is a writer in Bloomington, Minn.