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Published: Monday, 4/14/2008

'Work Out' premiere is reality gold

BY ROB OWEN
BLOCK NEWS ALLIANCE

Next week's second episode, which begins with a focus on Los Angeles trainer Jackie Warner and her clients in a specialized weight-loss program. Next week's second episode, which begins with a focus on Los Angeles trainer Jackie Warner and her clients in a specialized weight-loss program.
VIVIAN ZINK / © BRAVO Enlarge

I never paid much attention to Bravo's Work Out, which returns for its third season at 11 p.m. tomorrow. I might have watched the pilot, but I didn't go back to this docu-reality show. Maybe what I saw back then was more like next week's second episode, which begins with a focus on Los Angeles trainer Jackie Warner and her clients in a specialized weight-loss program. Bor-ing.

But this week's season premiere is reality gold, concentrating on petty squabbles among Jackie and her trainers. Many of them seem various shades of crazy and self-absorbed, which makes for a lot more trashy fun than seeing Jackie try to instill optimism in overweight clients.

And let me be clear: Work Out, which moves to 10 p.m. Tuesday starting April 22, is not great TV. It's fun TV. Those two things don't have to be mutually exclusive, but neither do they necessarily go hand in hand.

In tomorrow's season premiere, trainer Rebecca Cardon, who had a fling with Jackie last year, exhibits every sign of jealousy and potential stalker material.

"I tend to act like a petulant child when I'm not being paid attention to," Rebecca says before lurking outside Jackie's office door. She eventually gets invited in and gets the lowdown on Jackie's relationship with her new girlfriend, Briana. They moved in together the day they met.

"You're such the quintessential lesbian," Rebecca says either in derision or admiration. It's not clear which it is.

Jackie is as self-absorbed and obnoxious as she is selfish. She shows little concern for how she makes those around her feel and seems obsessed with being the boss, even if it means undermining her trainers. Rebecca may be crazy-jealous, but she's absolutely right when she says Jackie dates younger women so she can be in control. No doubt.

Among the guys, puckish Jesse Brune has the best take on everything that happens at Jackie's Sky Sport & Spa, correctly predicting that meathead trainer Brian Peeler will be intimidated by abtastic newcomer Gregg Plitt, a fitness model who takes his shirt off while training a client so he can be "a living, breathing inspiration." I'm sure it had nothing to do with wanting to show off his body.

Work Out occasionally feels as contrived and pre-planned as Laguna Beach or The Hills, particularly when viewers see Jackie and Briana waking up in bed in the morning. Did the camera crew spend the night to get that shot? Did they break into her home? Or was it staged? And why is Briana asking Jackie about going out of town on a cruise the day before she leaves? Wouldn't they have discussed that previously or did producers ask them to blab out some key pieces of information for the benefit of the TV drama's plot?

In a show as fluffy and inconsequential as Work Out, the reality of it doesn't matter. When the focus is squarely on ridiculous drama and interpersonal conflict, Work Out works.

The Block News Alliance consists of The Blade and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Rob Owen is the TV editor for the Post-Gazette.

Contact him at:

rowen@post-gazette.com



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