Springer's Baggage Claim

Jerry Springer comes with a lot of baggage. Literally.

Springer, 66, is the host of Game Show Network's "Baggage," and there's no better host for such a program.

The man they call "The Grandfather of Trash TV" is finally hosting a show where there is no pretentiousness.

Unlike his "The Jerry Springer Show," which is celebrating 20 years on the air (believe it or not), "Baggage" doesn't purport to help people or to enlighten its audience. It's a shlocky dating show, pure and simple.

The format of "Baggage" is rather cute, actually.

Springer tries to match a young man or woman with three potential suitors, each of whom has three different sized suitcases beside them, representing the baggage they carry as a person.

The type of baggage is revealed gradually, with each suitcase getting bigger, matching the potential seriousness of the quirk it contains.

For example, the smallest suitcase may be opened and reveal a sign that says, "I still sleep in footie pajamas," or, "I eat my dinner foods in alphabetical order."

But the larger suitcases may have signs that say, "I had an abortion," or "I've been arrested three times for DUI."

Throughout, Springer has ample opportunities to smirk, make snarky comments, and basically function as Bob Eubanks from Hell.

Springer on the set of "Baggage"

But it's all good, because "Baggage" is just having fun; there's no thinking that any match the show makes will actually last past the first date.

I think it's a fresh, brutally honest take on the dating show format. No hiding the contestants' faces, like in "The Dating Game." No hurried through one-on-ones, like in the old "Buzz!" show hosted by Annie Wood.

The suitors are a mere 10 feet from the one they hope to woo, and they're not hiding behind any disguises---physical or otherwise. It's up to the man or woman to decide who to select, baggage and all. Period.

I guess what bothers me about Springer's "other" show is the preposterous presumption that he's genuinely trying to help people, when in fact all he's doing is exploiting them for our eye candy.

"The Jerry Springer Show" is a three-ring circus; "Baggage" is a fun, breezy send-up of how imperfect we are, and whether those imperfections are important to the one Springer is trying to match.

"Baggage" is the perfect vehicle for Jerry Springer. It won't last 20 years like his signature show, but at least it doesn't bill itself as something it's not.


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