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It was dwarf vs. Swan on reality ‘Battle’

Strange, sad show makes one pine for days of Gabe Kaplan
/ Source: msnbc.com contributor

If E!’s “Kill Reality” gives reality-television personalities an opportunity to die onscreen, then Bravo’s “Battle of the Network Reality Stars” (Wednesdays, 9 p.m. ET) — a title just begging for a sarcastic delivery of that last word — gives them an opportunity to strike each other down onscreen.

This aping of ABC’s old “Battle Of The Network Stars” features 32 contestants from shows that run the gamut from juggernauts like “Survivor” to … well, jugger-nots like “The Swan” and “Temptation Island.” They compete in tests of strength and skill, just as Farrah Fawcett and Gabe Kaplan did back in the olden days.

Perhaps no single moment in the premiere captured the show’s strange, sad, exhilarating weirdness quite like the jousting match between Charla, famous dwarf of “Amazing Race” raw-meat-carrying fame, and plastic-surgery victim Rachel Love Fraser, referred to by the announcers as simply The Swan.

Charla had convinced her team to let her joust by touting her low center of gravity and solid form, confirmed by one Richard Hatch, who tried hard to knock her over and found that he couldn’t. (Too bad, because that, too, would have been a moment to remember.) When the time came, Charla and The Swan batted at each other lightly and rhythmically. “Bat-bat, bat-bat, bat-bat,” went the ends of their padded, Q-tip-like jousting sticks.

Finally, after a couple of whistles for what could best be described as harmless bonks to the head on both sides, time ran out and a draw was declared, Charla and The Swan having spent five minutes swatting away to no apparent effect. It’s hard to feel 100 percent confident you’ve located the most purely, perfectly useless way five minutes have ever been spent by two people, but the Charla/Swan joust certainly has to be a strong contender.

Linda Holmes is a writer in Bloomington, Minn.