Two and a half stars
9 p.m., WLS-Channel 7
I am not being sarcastic when I say that I watch reality television for insights into human behavior. That and the catfights, obviously. But I think it's fascinating what we can learn from these contrived situations. If this is how people behave when they know the country is watching, how do they act when unsupervised? The mind reels.
Yes, having cameras present would affect the results of any social experiment. And yes, the kind of people who go on reality shows should count as their own species. But from a psychological point of view, the premiere of "Dating in the Dark" should not be missed.
Beyond that, you're on your own.
The premise is to answer the question, "Is love blind?" By the end of the first episode, we have a pretty good idea.
Each week, six singles spend a few days in a mansion, where they meet possible matches in a pitch-black room. That means that they can still get to know each other by talking, and - ick alert - smelling, touching, and tasting, if it should come to that.
After a couple has bonded/connected/lusted together, it's time for the Big Reveal: They finally get to see each other in the same dark room, when the spotlight shines on their faces for a few seconds, one at a time. What's far more revealing is what we can see from the night-vision camera: their hidden reactions.
You will squirm.
Three things elevate "Dating in the Dark" above the likes of "Blind Date" reruns (slightly).
So far, the producers haven't resorted to MTV-ready twentysomethings gone wild. Consider Steven, for instance. "I'm a genius," he tells the camera. "Literally. I'm in Mensa." And if that doesn't turn you on, just wait until you hear what he's looking for in a woman: "Good pheremones and a good hip-to-waist ratio." Duh.
And then there's Leni, an Australian nanny who says men respond to her sense of humor. "That, and my boobs."
The men compare notes amongst themselves, in a suitably male setting (black leather furniture, neon bar signs). The women, as you can imagine, indulge in slumber-party talk. It's fun to see just how far off they can be - especially when they work on a portrait of what they think the other one looks like with a police sketch artist. Talk about setting yourself up for disappointment. Note to the ladies: Prince William is taken.
After the unavoidable shock of seeing each other's faces, they are sent back to their rooms to reflect. They must decide whether to venture out onto the Balcony of Possible Rejection, where their match could be waiting for them.
Worst case scenario? Standing on the balcony amidst the potted plants, utterly alone, watching the other person leave the premises in a car without looking back.
That's pretty good TV.
If you find yourself tuning into more than one episode of "Dating in the Dark," I am going to guess it's to watch the night-vision outtakes from the dark room. Maybe you like to watch people trip over invisible bean bags. I won't judge you.
But for me, this show is a one-night stand, not a relationship.