Several years ago the band the Arrogant Worms sang "It's Great to Be a Nerd," and time has proven them right.  Some of the hottest movies and television shows are based on comic books, video games are one of the hottest forms of entertainment, the Internet is bigger than ever, and science fiction and fantasy are wildly popular.  (Heck, one of the biggest shows on tv is The Big Bang Theory, featuring four uber-nerds.)  So does the reality competition show King of the Nerds salute geek culture or mock it?  More the latter.
Hosted by Curtis Armstrong and Carradine (because they were in the movie Revenge of the Nerds), King of the Nerds brings eleven different types of nerds -- from video game pros to scientists to roleplaying game designers -- together at "Nerdvana."  The players are divided into two teams, and each episode has two contests.  The team that wisn the first contest is immune; then the winning and losing team each select someone on the losing team, and those two compete in a "Nerd Off" to see who goes home.  The last player standing will win a big cash prize -- and sit on the "Throne of Games" as the King of the Nerds.
King of the Nerds did a good job by selecting "professional" nerds to play: The players almost all make a living in their hobbies, rather than n just having obsessive pasttimes.  Unfortunately, the players do come off as awkward and socially inept.  And in addition to the usual reality tv show tricks (dramatic cuts just before a commercial, people talking trash and plotting to the camera), there's a sense of randomness here: In the first episode one team "lost" when a person said they seemed weaker, and no one knows what will be involved in the "Nerd Off" when selecting folks to compete in it. And many of the show's geeky elements seem designed for the audience to laugh at the players rather than with them.
There are a lot of terrific elements in different types of "nerd culture," but King of the Nerds goes for the silly side rather than the cooler side.  It's a shame.

Overall grade: D
Reviewed by James Lynch

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