By Will Harris – PremiumHollywood.Com – August 4th, 2009

      I walked into the panel for the Science Channel’s new game show, “Head Games,” with considerable excitement. In earlier drafts of the schedule for the TCA Press Tour, we’d been told that the show’s executive producer, Whoopi Goldberg, would not be in attendance, but somewhere along the line, plans changed and Goldberg apparently decided that she would be able to make it to Pasadena. I’m still very much the kind of critic who gets excited about big names being in attendance for the tour, and although Whoopi might not have been the most famous Comic Relief host to turn up that day (a few hours later, Robin Williams had a panel for his upcoming HBO stand-up special), c’mon, she’s still Whoopi! Plus, the host of “Head Games” is Greg Proops, and I’ve been a fan of his since his days as a regular on the original British version of “Whose Line Is It, Anyway?”

      So why, then, did I walk away disappointed?

      Because, frankly, Whoopi was a grouch.

      Believe me, I’m still very excited about the series itself, and it’s impossible not to get behind Whoopi’s personal mission to inspire more people, especially women and girls, to share her love of learning, but did she really have to start out by insulting us?

      “I’m sure most of you had no idea that if you put a gummi bear in a test tube, what would happen to it,” she said. “I’m pretty sure none of you knew that a flea can jump with a velocity higher, faster than a shuttle. Now, you can sit there and be cool because I know you’re all from L.A., but you didn’t know this, and you know you didn’t.”

      Well, I’m not from L.A., so maybe that’s why I did know the thing about the flea. But when someone tried to remind her that quite a lot of people in the room weren’t actually from L.A., she replied, “Wherever you’re from, you were not into this, but I want you to be into this now.” Why all the insistence that we’re not into science? Is it really so hard to believe that TV critics might actually have interests outside of television?

      What really got me, though, was her rather snippy response to a question that was clearly intended to be funny. Someone asked her which member of the “View” team could most do with a lesson in science from “Head Games,” and she replied, “I am not here…you know what? I know that’s supposed to be a provocative question, but I’m here to talk about my science show, which is separate from ‘Whoopi Goldberg, producer.’” A beat. “Also, Academy Award winner, Grammy winner…”

      I guess you have to give her some credit: it’s not easy to make a joke within seconds of seeming to have no sense of humor.

      Fortunately, Greg Proops was there to lighten the mood, though he unfortunately didn’t actually get a question until the very last moment. When he was finally addressed, he first launched into a response where he pretended that he was a member of an earlier panel (the one for “Police Women of Broward County,” of all things), settling down only slightly when someone wanted to know if he had any personal favorites amongst science-oriented shows.

      “I think ‘Entourage’ is a very scientific show,” Proops said. “You learn a lot about the science of show business on that. And I like ‘Dexter’ as well. I think that has a lot of forensic things in it that I can pick up. I watch a lot of documentaries and stuff as well. I do. I watch the Science Channel and the History Channel. Or I used to watch the History Channel when it was all Hitler, but now that’s it’s not, it’s not as fun for me.”

      I’ll close by confirming that I do indeed know that Whoopi’s intentions for this show are sincere. After disparaging our collective knowledge, she made a plea for us to fill our children’s head with the scientific information that she was providing us.

      “Now, you know, maybe none of you care (about ‘Head Games’),” Whoopi said, “but you’re critics, so you have to. But we would like you to care in a loving way, so that even if you don’t care, you can get the people who watch to see if they care and come check us out. We’re this big as a show…” She held her thumb and forefinger very close together. “…but our hearts are gigantic because we know we can make it better.”

      I’ll be glad to do my part to help promote the show, Whoopi. And in return, maybe you can be a little more cheerful toward us next time…?

      “Head Games” premieres on the Science Channel on October 17th.

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