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Syfy's Total Blackout an eyesore for the ages

Jaleel White happily hosts the gross Total Blackout. Syfy photos

Premiering: Wednesday, April 25th at 9 p.m. (central) with back-to-back episodes on Syfy
Hosted by: Jaleel White
Produced by: Hnrik Nielsen, Jeff Apploff, Jack Martin

It seems reasonably safe to assume that Alex Trebek wouldn't be interested in hosting a game show in which in-the-dark contestants must, among other things, sniff an obese man's hairy unkempt armpit in pursuit of a measly $5,000 grand prize.

That is unless his only available alternative was mating with a wild boar. And even then, Trebek might have to think about it.

So in steps Jaleel White, who's also currently hoofing and puffing with the lush Kym Johnson on ABC's Dancing with the Stars. You'd think he might be able to parlay that into something more than this. But the former Steve Urkel must have inked a deal to preside over Syfy's Total Blackout well before DWTS put him back among the living. Whatever the timing, though, this is a career decision that equates with sticking your hand into the teeth of a whirring garbage disposal. Sorry, garbage disposals.

Syfy is launching Total Blackout with back-to-back half-hour episodes Wednesday night. Let's hope no Martians land in the interim, because it'd be sad for them to see this as typical earthling behavior. On the other hand, perhaps they'd retreat in horror before warning other planets that Earth isn't worth invading.

The opening half-hour presents four contestants, all of whom are escorted into a pitch dark arena to face their fears.

"I'm gonna win this game because I said so," brags a Boston administrator named Awet. But she's soon completely petrified by the first challenge, in which competitors are told to put their hands into glass tanks and then guess what's within. Awet immediately gets the heebies while photographer Marq gets a serious case of the girlyman jeebies. Objects that they're asked to identify range from cockroaches to a bra.

The contestant with the fewest correct answers is eliminated by jumping into a "deep black hole," as White puts it. Three survivors then must correctly identify the foods they slurp from the belly button areas of four bare-skinned humans positioned flat on their backs. Imagine a Hollywood agent telling a client," Hey, I've got great news! I've landed you a prime-time TV gig in which your navel will house a mound of bleu cheese! It's a sure portal to stardom!"

White eventually quips, "Well, the good thing is you don't have to do the dishes." The guy's a riot!

The finale pits two competitors in a five-minute challenge that includes the aforementioned ripe armpit.

"It smells like poo," says one of the hopefuls.

"It smells like an animal," says the other, who earlier had guessed "lemon meringue pie" when put in close proximity to a "stinky shoe."

Wednesday's second episode of Total Blackout has a quartet of couples in pursuit of $5 grand after White helpfully notes that "normally only four contestants are put through our cruel and unusual punishment."

After proper introductions are made, he promises one and all, "Your fingers are about to go places they've never been before."

He says nothing about viewers' brain cells, which surely will be down a quart after even brief exposure to Total Blackout.

In the annals of all-time worst game shows, this one takes its rightful place alongside ABC's Conveyor Belt of Love, which soiled prime-time back in January 2010.

ABC also turned out the lights in July 2009 with Dating in the Dark, a grope-fest hosted by former Temptation Island contestant Rossi Moreale.

Total Blackout laps this field, though, at the point when the tubby guy brandishes his armpit for smelling purposes. That's going to be a hard one to top for any future game show. But flatulence is still in play.