Dud ranch 

'Cowboy U' heads to Colorado, but it feels like we've been here before

click to enlarge Bacon: the hard way.
  • Bacon: the hard way.

I'm a closet cowgirl. My car radio flips from NPR (when I'm with passengers) to Cat Country (when I'm driving alone). At least one of the two pairs of boots under my four-post bed gets paired with some boot-cut jeans on a weekly basis. And on weekend nights, my Palm Pilot schedule finds me line dancing at the local country nightclub.

So when I heard that "Cowboy U," one of the reality shows on Country Music Television, was coming to Colorado to film the series' sixth season, I hollered, "Yee-haw!" inside my head, at least.

Shot in the mountains west of Pikes Peak, I figured this show would compete favorably with last season's curious Hawaii location. Turns out I was wrong mostly because this year's show is just more of the same.

In this season's opening episode, we're re-introduced to a pair of professional cowboys, "Cowboy U" hosts Rocco Wachman and Judd Leffew, as they head to Lake George's M Lazy C Ranch to meet their eight new recruits.

Each is a self-described city slicker. The four male and four female contestants roll off the hay-bale truck with their piles of luggage, healthy physiques and fancy city duds. Rocco makes his usual Bad Cop entrance atop a stunning spotted horse. Judd jumps on and off a bull with a bright Good Cop smile.

Yadda, yadda, yadda.

For the rest of the three-week period over which the "Cowboy U" season is filmed, the cameras will follow these eight wannabes through, essentially, a rancher's boot camp. To be fair, it's no vacation at the Broadmoor Spa. Among the mud and muck of ranch life, the participants learn skills such as riding, feeding and grooming horses, roping cattle and, ultimately, taming a bull all while living together in a fairly rustic one-room bunkhouse.

There's a problem here, though. The whole act's getting a bit tired. Does it really make sense to keep casting these ridiculously clueless characters? Sure, there are always surprises and twists in these reality shows (this week, there'll be one that'll leave our cowboy hosts hopping mad), but anyone who signs up to join a recurring program without having watched a previous season is just plain stupid.

These city slickers do own televisions, right? Don't they watch them? The eight contestants brought in this season seem to have no prior knowledge about the basic rules of the game and, yes, it is a game. Whoever hangs in there until the end walks away with the title of "Cowboy" and a nice $25,000 parting gift. Call me crazy, but I'm ready for some competitors who come packing if not with rifles, then at least with some brains.

Perhaps even more disappointing is the fact that, at least in this week's premiere, there's barely a hint of Colorado to be seen. Blue skies and pine trees fill the background of most every shot, sure, but where are the cameramen hiding the Rockies? And how? The scenery disappoints, particularly for someone who can see Pikes Peak from her window.

"Cowboy U" just seems to be going through the motions. And that's something this closeted cowgirl already gets plenty of from line dancing.


"Cowboy U"

New episodes air on CMT starting Friday at 6 p.m.

Visit cmt.com for episode guides, exclusive online interviews and other information.


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