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James Hibberd

¡ASI, Ay, Ay!

July 21, 2006 4:45 PM

Thursday was Press Tour field trip day, during which many of the flyover critics headed to the set of the ABC fire-crotch medical series “Grey’s Anatomy” with hopes of getting some quotes from Dr. McDreamy. 

Meanwhile, a few of us ventured over to a presentation at the focus-group testing facility in North Hollywood run by marketing company ASI. We were escorted into one of ASI’s two test theaters, where we were shown the dreaded dial-test devices the company uses to test the favorability of TV pilots. Our host explained to us to turn the dial depending how much we liked or disliked the pilot, and press the red button as if we were at home and had changed the channel due to lack of interest.It was clear we were going to screen something, but what could they get their hands on that most of us, if not all of us, had not already seen?

Turns out they went back in time at least five years, with help from one critic who scored a busted pilot that mercifully had never been widely viewed.
 The gem we tested was a UPN drama that goes back to former network chief Dean Valentine’s days at the soon-to-be-defunct network.

The pilot featured an undercover beach volleyball team with the pouty-lipped Lisa Rinna as its leader. After the tragic murder of one of Rinna’s team members that involved a revolver, a bikini top and roller blades, the “breaking all the rules” Rinna goes to a female prison to find her next protégé. Of course, there’s an all-girl cage fight.

This recap skips so many of the elements that made the pilot special (Daisy Fuentes!), but things got short-circuited fairly quickly once the pilot started to screen. Half way through the opening beach volleyball scene, several critics started yelling “red button!”

I, for one, stuck it out through the prison cage fight. 


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