`Grease’ pit

Now this is what you call bad television.

“Grease: You’re the One That I Want” is two hours of “reality” television at its worst. I know television networks have no shame, but NBC can’t be proud of this lame attempt to spin some “American Idol” luchre their way. We finally get through the monotonous preliminaries to the talent portion of this casting contest, and the producers bring back two surprise cry-baby contestants, Ashley and Matt (left), just to spice things up. Then, when America (and by America we mean a very, very small percentage of Americans) votes, the judges ignore the will of the people and off the two “surprise” cry-babies who shouldn’t have been brought back in the first place.

Ridiculous. And Sunday night’s two-hour episode (watched in a much more digestible 45 minutes — thank you, TiVo) was not at all helped by the presence of Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber, who presided over the Sandy candidates bombasting their way through his songbook, while the Dannys, inexplicably, attempted to over-choreograph their supposedly “sexy” songs.

I’m done. I can’t devote precious Sunday-night time to this anymore (especially as Ricky Gervais’ brilliant “Extras” is coming to a close on HBO). I’ll check in online and see who gets dumped in future weeks, but my attempt to digest a fatty, gristle-ridden chunk of reality TV — only because of the Broadway bent — is tabled … at least until the return of “Project Runway.”

Oil slick

“Grease: You’re the One That I Want” is the worst kind of “reality” TV tripe. So why am I watching it and sort of looking forward to Sunday’s TWO-HOUR voting show?

From the outset, I wasn’t going to watch the show at all. Other than “Project Runway,” I don’t do reality TV (insert snobby sniff-sniff here). I missed the first episode of “Grease” on NBC and my doggone TiVo (it knows me too well and it scares me) recorded a rerun on Bravo.

For those who don’t know, “Grease: You’re the One That I Want” is patterned after a similar show in England in which a lengthy audition process to find the Maria for a new Andrew Lloyd Webber-produced The Sound of Music in London’s West End was televised, and viewers got to vote on the winner. Apparently the woman chosen by the public is very good, and the revival is monster hit.

For the American version, they’re casting the roles of Danny and Sandy for a new Broadway revival of Grease (the musical least in need of Broadway reviving).

Some real talent (director/choreographer Kathleen Marshall) (left) is involved in this process as well as some non-talent (“hosts” Billy Bush and Denise Van Outen). All the worst reality TV trappings — dumb-ass sound effects, slow-mo, agonizing repetition — are here in full force and nearly ruin the show.

Notice I say “nearly.” There is fun to be had here. My favorite drama so far has been all the cry-baby auditioners. One girl melted down mid-audition for producer David Ian. That can’t be fun (hey — I hear vocal training can really help in these situations — check it out!). And the saga of jock Matt Nolan has been great. He’s a major sports guy (even works in sports marketing or some such) who has a secret desire to be a Broadway song and dance man. Turns out he was the biggest cry-baby of all. His session with producer Ian is a hoot. Watch it:

Going into what is sure to be two hours of torture on Sunday, what with the live component and viewer voting, I’m pulling for Ashley Spencer (who played Barbie in the national tour of Barbie in Fairy-topia) and Juliana Hansen (who’s in a Bruce Springsteen tribute band) in the Sandy category and local Foster City boy Jason Celaya and pure pro Austin Miller. I suppose I should also throw my support behind Chad Doreck because I support anyone named Chad who isn’t a porn star.

Visit NBC’s official “Grease: You’re the One That I Want” Web site here.