"King of the Nerds" returned for a second season yesterday, the first hit reality show on TBS, with another nerd-filled cast and more Harry Potter than you can shake a broomstick at.
I spoke with Robert Carradine and Curtis Armstrong, the two stars from the 1984 film "Revenge of the Nerds" who created the show and are hosts. They were naturally thrilled the show did well last year especially since it took years for them to get this idea on air.
"Somewhere along the way, we expected it to go to hell," Armstrong said. "The truth is it didn't happen that way."
Although budgets aren't largely different for season two, Carradine said "it looks bigger. We better utilized our budget. We had to make everything visually interesting and imaginative."
They tried to throw in twists without throwing away what worked so well season one. They also opted for a diverse set of nerds - not just rocket scientists, chemists and bioengineering experts but a puppeteer, a gay gamer and a Japan-o-phile. "We left no nerd stone unturned," Armstrong declared. "All shapes and sizes." (Plus, an especially hairy man.)
The strategic approaches to win the $100,000 varied with some smart folks trying to downplay their smarts so as not to attract attention (gleaned from "Survivor"). Others created alliances (again, straight from "Survivor.") Sometimes, teams targeted people who seemed genuinely weak. Sometimes, they targeted folks who they thought could win it all. So who will win? It's impossible to tell after seeing one episode.
Without spoiling too much in case you missed it last night, Kelsey Syers of Canton GA, a linguist and teacher, has a tough go of it with the other nerds. Her non-nerdy blond hair and relative lack of science expertise might have hurt her. Yes, it was reverse nerd discrimination!
"King of the Nerds," 10 p.m. Thursdays, TBS
Melissa Carter of B98.5 wrote a Georgia Voice essay about a person who called into the show to inform the producer that with his family (via vote), they decided not to listen anymore. Why? Because he heard she had a girlfriend and is (gasp!) gay.
After the call, Jeff [Elliott, her on-air cohost] and Jeremy [Powell, her producer] spent the next few minutes discussing how offended they were at hatred towards gay people. Mind you, I was not part of that conversation, since I was unaffected by the call and continued with my work. But to hear these straight guys genuinely disappointed in homophobia was refreshing. They also called the listener a coward for not talking to me directly. I must agree.
Sure, V-103 is going through some changes on air, but they are working hard behind the scenes to be "Happy," as in this video to the Pharrell Williams song "Happy." Ryan Cameron, Big Tigger, Ramona DeBreaux, Wanda Smith and Mo Ivory pop up, along with many of the V-103 employees and WAOK staff.