In the cleverest line in the awards season's cleverest movie, pregnant teenager Juno tells a baby-hungry couple they should have gone to China to adopt a newborn. "You know, they pretty much just put them in those T-shirt guns and shoot them out at sporting events."
But I couldn't shake the feeling that Fox -- the sister network of the studio behind "Juno" -- had already optioned that idea for a new reality show. "A Shot at Happiness," maybe. Or, simply, "Catch!"
I blame the relentless commercials for "The Moment of Truth" (9 p.m. Wednesday, KVVU-TV, Channel 5).
"Do fat people repulse you?" "Do you really care about the starving children in Africa?" It feels like ads showing contestants squirming at those questions have been in heavy rotation since the Carter administration.
They're squirming for good reason, though. Each participant is hooked to a polygraph before the show and asked a series of potentially (hopefully?) embarrassing questions. The truthfulness of their responses is recorded, but not shared, until the contestants are asked those same questions again in front of a studio audience that includes friends and family members.
Answer truthfully as determined by the machine -- or, more accurately, as interpreted by the person running the machine -- and win cash. Lie and go home. Unlike games of intellect ("Jeopardy!") or dumb luck ("Deal or No Deal"), the only thing separating contestants from the $500,000 grand prize is shame.
"Have you ever touched a co-worker inappropriately?" "Have you ever thought your boyfriend might be gay?" "Is there a part of your husband's body that repulses you?"
Tears will be shed. Relationships will be torn asunder.
In October, a woman on the Colombian version won $25,000 for admitting she hired someone to kill her husband. (Despite high ratings, the series was canceled the next week.)
No wonder each "Moment of Truth" commercial seems to contain at least nine variations on the word "controversy."
But controversy doesn't guarantee entertainment. In fact, it rarely does.
After freaking out a good chunk of the country -- "They're really stranding people on an island and making them eat bugs?" -- "Survivor" managed to string together a couple of compelling seasons.
But that's the exception, not the rule, in the annals of outrage TV that includes:
• "Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire?" -- Women competed to wed a wealthy stranger on the spot.
• "Temptation Island" -- Hot singles tried to break up committed couples.
• "Who's Your Daddy" -- A woman who had been adopted tried to pick her biological father out of a lineup for a $100,000 prize.
• "There's Something About Miriam" -- Men competed, "I Love New York"-style, for the love of a model, who was revealed in the finale to be a pre-operative transsexual.
• "Man vs. Beast" -- People challenged animals in feats of strength, speed and skill.
OK, that last one was pretty entertaining. Come on, 44 little people vs. an elephant in a race to pull a jumbo jet across a finish line? Sure, it was offensive to little people. And animals. The American intellect. And television inventor Philo T. Farnsworth. But you know you're just biding your time until you can look it up on YouTube.
And that's the key. You can have all the controversy of a year's worth of TMZ, but without spectacle, viewers won't stick around. It's a challenge I'm not sure "The Moment of Truth" can overcome.
The show won't even be able to play the controversy card for more than another week or two, because on Feb. 18, NBC will debut "The Baby Borrowers," an unscripted series that will let five unwed couples, ages 18 to 20, "raise" honest-to-God infants.
I know, it sounds like I'm making it up. Go ahead, Google it. I'll wait.
Earlier this season, CBS' "Kid Nation" riled up so many parents it led to government investigations. And that show ended up being less dangerous than your average summer camp.
Now NBC is putting babies in harm's way, under the supervision of what it calls "nervous, fumbling teens"? The sports books just set the over-under for the Apocalypse at March 5.
It's almost like the network is daring writers to stay on the picket lines. ("Give us more 'Bionic Woman' or the baby gets it!")
I wouldn't trust random teenagers alone with my laundry. But five sets of parents surrendered their little bundles of joy for what NBC repeatedly insists is a "social experiment."
The network should just hand them all T-shirt guns and get it over with.
Christopher Lawrence's Life on the Couch column appears on Mondays. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.