The Science Channel’s first and only game show “Head Games” is not simply guilt-free TV on an “educational” network. And it’s not just another show to watch in lieu of doing homework with only minimal self-reproach. Instead, it manages to funnel genuinely intriguing information and humor into a short half-hour slot.

“Head Games”

Saturdays at 9 p.m.
Science Channel

In “Head Games,” contestants compete to answer a variety of questions covering a range of science-related categories including natural science, inventions and the sexual practices of a specific type of octupus. The executive producer is none other than Whoopi Goldberg, who also produced “Hollywood Squares” (an old guilty pleasure of a game show that lasted five seasons).

Greg Proops (“True Jackson, VP”) hosts with hair as spiked as ever, ready to access a collection of innuendos for all occasions. And the show gives him ample innuendo opportunity (probably intentionally) with its content.

One of the greatest strengths of “Head Games” is that it is not geared only to science lovers. Some might find the show attractive purely out of the nostalgia induced by the fourth-grade egg and vinegar trick, and all can appreciate a look at a genetic trait found in goats causing them to faint as a survival mechanism.

Basically, “Head Games” manages to hold viewers’ attention almost entirely because it builds curiosity. The want to know the answer to the questions is more gripping than the competition on the show. That’s not to say that some of the contestants aren’t quirky characters, though next to a host like Greg Proops they seem less strange than would in other settings.

In all honesty, Proops tends to alternate between hesitantly lovable and somewhat obnoxious throughout, never quite slipping permanently into either description. As a host he fills a central role, and commentary from him is a given. Clearly he wasn’t chosen for his experience and interest in scientific information — he holds onto his note cards quite tightly. Rather, he was picked for his background in game shows (which is extensive) and for his wit. Those who don’t find him amusing even while he’s in his “hesitantly lovable” phase will almost certainly lose some patience with his flamboyant banter and monologues.

Still, whether Proops makes a positive impression or not, the competition itself lends a certain amount of low-key excitement to the whole affair, albeit excitement without too much breath-holding. If “Head Games” filled an hour time slot like “The Price Is Right” rather than the taking up its half hour more commonly seen in game shows like “Jeopardy,” the show would likely suffer, possibly even degenerating into monotony. Luckily this is not the case, and apart from a few momentary lapses when the questions get a bit simple. The show fits well into the time allotted to it.

Audiences will be able to watch “Head Games” without feeling shame or embarrassment, even when they’re watching it out of sheer enjoyment rather than for procrastination purposes. During the show, semi-useless fun facts pop up almost continuously along the way, which is never a bad thing.

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