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 V.14 No.28 | July 14 - 20, 2005 

Idiot Box

Shore Thing

“Minding the Store” on TBS

I love Pauly Shore. Not as an actor or a comedian, mind you, but as a punch line. In my dozen or so years in the newspaper business, I've probably fallen back on the easy “Jury Duty” jab 50 or 60 times ... which is why I have to give Shore credit for trying to revive his career with a new reality show, “Minding the Store.”

Sure, it seems like everybody and their mother (Kathy Hilton, for example) has their own reality show these days. But arriving late in the reality show game seems like the perfect thing to do for a hard luck hero like Shore.

Throughout the early '90s, Pauly Shore was on top of his game. An inexplicable hit among the MTV generation, the comic had a popular TV series (“Totally Pauly” on MTV) and a string of dumb theatrical hits that soon lost their “hit” status, leaving behind nothing but the residue of dumb (Encino Man, Son-in-Law, In the Army Now, Jury Duty, Bio-Dome). In less than a decade, Shore's career had crashed on the reefs, and he couldn't maintain so much as an eponymous sitcom on FOX (1997's quickly canceled “Pauly”).

But, the thing is, Shore was spawned from a minor show biz empire. His father is stand-up comic Sammy Shore and his mother owns the legendary Comedy Store, a Los Angeles landmark that has hosted some of stand-up's greatest performers since 1972. Now, with his time in the spotlight fading, Shore has been drafted into taking over the family business.

Older, (perhaps) wiser and certainly more tired looking, Pauly Shore now finds himself followed by the cameras of “Minding the Store” as he tries to pump life into the family's sagging nightclub.

From the get-go, “Minding the Store” feels rather contrived. These days, the average “reality” show is as scripted as a WWE match. But “Minding the Store” pushes the envelope even further, providing a weekly cast of wacky characters and assorted “punch lines.” While it's hard to tell what, if anything, in “Minding the Store” reflects Shore's real life, I am forced to admit that it goes a long way toward humanizing him.

All in all, Shore comes across as a good guy who cares a great deal about his family and really does want to do a good job running his family business. With his “Weasel” persona dead and buried alongside his tie-dye headscarves, Shore now displays a good sense of self-deprecating humor and a certain world-weary gravity.

When Shore talks about Jamie Foxx, star of Booty Call, landing an Oscar, you almost believe that Shore might have it in himself to pull off a major transformation. Or at least that he'd like to. Scenes in which Shore talks to his “sex therapist”--and then proceeds to bump into sexy sluts left and right--smack of reality show manipulation. Even so, “Minding the Store” is an intermittently honest look at faded celebrity and the first time I've been able to watch Pauly Shore for more than 10 minutes at a stretch without feeling queasy.

“Minding the Store” debuts Sunday, July 17, at 8 p.m. on TBS.

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