"Reality Bites Back" at first appears too cute for its own good -- a Mad magazine-style parody of reality shows (as if most of them aren't self-parody already) pitting 10 comics against one another in a series of contests modeled after established elimination games such as "The Amazing Race," "The Bachelor" and "American Idol."
What emerges, though, is surprisingly witty -- perhaps buoyed by the fact that 3Ball Prods. produces such straight-faced reality fare as "Beauty and the Geek."
Michael Ian Black has mastered the self-important, pregnant-pausing quirks of a "joyfully sadistic" reality host, basking in the suffering of the contestants (whose direct-to-camera commentary, as comics, is periodically pretty funny). In the "Big Brother"-bashing premiere, that includes having the players seek to seduce someone in a darkened room as part of a program titled "Extreme Manipulation: Home Edition," only to be greeted with a genuine "Lights on" surprise.
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