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'Temptation Island' seeks to seduce viewers again

August 28, 2003|Mark Sachs | Times Staff Writer

As improbable as it may seem, Fox has found four new couples secure enough in their relationships -- or, perhaps more accurately, reckless enough with them -- to brave the dangerously seductive waters of "Temptation Island."

Now in its third edition (tonight at 9), this vaguely sadistic sociological experiment in tropical trappings hasn't tinkered much with its ratings-tested formula. The dating twosomes are shipped to a gorgeous locale with the men banished to one side of the island and the women the other. Waiting there for each group are 14 hormonally precocious members of the opposite sex, oiled up and primed to wreak havoc on the relationships.

Varying degrees of separation anxiety keep the couples subdued and even tearful through the early going, but the "TI3" staff and host Mark Walberg have plenty of tricks prepared to goose the action. Warmup dates are arranged, ugly confrontations are orchestrated and evidence-gathering cameras are rolling to capture the principals at their weakest moments.

Can any of the relationships possibly survive this 14-day acid test?

"I don't think I have anything to worry about," sniffs Melissa, the naive half of one couple.

We'll see what she thinks after watching some tape of her man, Michael.

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