Season 2 of faith-based dating show It Takes a Church premiered last week on GSN. From what happened in Season 1, overall, the quality of the episode had a general improvement.
In this episode, we follow Brianna, a churchgoer who's last serious relationship was with her middle school boyfriend (and lasted eight years, from when she was 13 to 21 years old). The focus of the premiere episode was "Situationships". The definition of situationships, according to Brianna, is a situation between friends that does not go anywhere (like a date, serious dating or sex).
Just like in season one, Natalie Grant surprises a dater looking for a relationship at his/her church. During the filmed event, a large number of suitors of the opposite sex (usually 6 to 10 in Season 1) are introduced. There were eight suitors introduced in last week's episode and just like season one, four advanced. Three were chosen by the congregation and the fourth was chosen by a pastor.
I am glad to see the "game show" element came into this episode. In the first activity, with the four suitors still remaining, questions and answers were given to the four men in an 'A', 'B' and 'C' format. The four men would bounce on trampolines to the three choices. Each suitor had a different trampoline (no two men would land on the same square). These were opinion based, life style questions. Brianna had previously answered these questions and she to would bounce to either A, B or C in her space after the men answered to reveal if there were matches. Ten points were rewarded for each answer the men had matched with Brianna and whoever had the most points in the end of the round got to spend some one on one time with Brianna. This game alone did not decide elimination. Brianna would later decide who, out of all four men, would be eliminated (even the winner could have been eliminated). It's all up to Brianna in these rounds.
I really praise It Takes a Church for adding a game show element to the show. It does air on Game Show Network, but the first season really lacked good Q&A's and follow-along stunts with points and winners per round.
The next challenge, with the three men remaining, was rather pointless and a let down. Brianna did get an opportunity to explore the three remaining suitor's thought process, but it was about make-overs and the look of a woman. It wasn't interactive and would suit the Skin Wars audience, if anyone. At least when it got down to two men remaining, there was more one on one time between the suitor and Brianna.
The one negative about the entire show is in the beginning, the number of suitors available. For example, eight suitors are introduced but four are featured in the remaining 50 or so minutes of the episode. Sure, a show like The Bachelor starts out with 25 women and knocks off ten by the end of the first episode. I really do not see the point of introducing any men (in this episode) than the four that will be selected and the point of the congregation voting. Instead, the process should start with the four suitors but with two games/challenges before the first elimination (instead of one game/challenge)
Another criticism (but I do not think this will go away): With the exception of the end of the show, the dramatic pauses with elimination are a little much. Should be cut down and moved faster.
SPOILER: The "surprise proposal" of the season, highlighted in the press release, was no big deal. An older parishioner who was not involved with the show that had been dating another parishioner for many years asked her to marry him. I thought one of the suitors who was just dating, for example, Brianna, was going to propose. That would have been a little soon, if you ask me.
Game show folks, including Casey Abell did believe that the only reason It Takes a Church got a second season was because of a strong sponsor, Christian Mingle, although that was just speculative. There was no mention of Christian Mingle anywhere. No commercials or anything. In fact, the eliminated suitors did not even get a free trial on Christian Mingle. If anything, Christian Mingle was turned off with the outcome of Season 1 ratings and the numbers alone are why It Takes a Church got renewed.
It Takes a Church Season 2: 3.5 out of 5 stars, which is actually up over the 3 out of 5 stars that I gave the Season 1 premiere. I think the hour moved along well, GSN handled It Takes a Church well without focusing too much on the actual church and religion (where someone who is not interested in church or religion I believe would still enjoy the show).
This premiere of It Takes a Church is already OnDemand, if you missed it and still want to check it out. New episodes of It Takes a Church air Thursdays at 8pm ET on GSN.