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In 2009, SallyAnn Salsano put a group of self-proclaimed guidos and guidettes in a house on the beach for the summer and the rest is what they call history... Bizarre, overly-tanned pop culture history. I am, of course, referring to Jersey Shore, MTV's popular reality TV series, which wrapped up for good last year. If there's a vacancy to be filled in Jersey Shore's absence, Fangasm probably isn't going to get the job done. The new series Salsano has produced alongside Joel Zimmer has a completely different tone, not only because it's set on the West Coast, but because the seven strangers picked to live in a house all have one thing in common. They're proud geeks.
Of course, the word "geek" is a broad term, as no two of them share the exact same interests and passions, but the common thread among this group is the internship each of them has been selected to do for Comikaze expo, Stan Lee's comic, gaming, anime, sci-fi, fantasy horror and general pop culture expo, which is held in Los Angeles each November. The series begins with an introduction to the interns, who are all just meeting each other. The group consists of Andrew Duvall, Sal Fringo, Krisitn Hackett, Molly McIsaac, Paul Perkins, Mike Red and Dani Snow. Each of them has their own interests and backgrounds.
The first episode brings the group together and sends them on their first internship task, which is to get petition signatures. There's a pretty major setback in that endeavor but they find a way around it, proving they're up for improvising when necessary. They also get to move into their house, which leads to trying to get the outdoor grill working and some especially hot hot-tub fun. And by hot I mean literally hot. Also kind of awkward.
In addition to a Skype appearance by Stan Lee, the premiere episode leads into a pretty fantastic cameo by George Takei. As you might imagine, there are a couple of people in the house who are big Star Trek fans. Takei's charm and graciousness in the company of some serious fans is part of what makes his appearance the true highlight of the episode.
With its focus on fanboys and fangirls, Fangasm runs the risk of making a spectacle of its subjects, much in the way Jersey Shore did. And I'll admit, that was one concern I had when screening the pilot, but based on the first episode, that doesn't seem to be the goal of this series. Sure, there's the occasional bit of awkwardness among the interns but it plays more charming than it does funny, and I don't get the impression that Fangasm is trying to exploit fanboy/girl culture for our amusement, nor do I think it's looking for an audience that wants to make fun of these people for their passions. Where the series succeeds is in the enthusiasm and openness of its subjects. The group is likable and eager to make the most of this experience, which I think will resonate with viewers.
Fangasm premieres Tuesday, September 24 at 10:00 p.m. ET on Syfy.