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ABC makes a valiant attempt to turn "The Lord of the Rings" into a reality/competition show, but "The Quest" (7 p.m. Thursday, Ch. 4) sinks in a pool of cheese.

Too bad.

The show comes to us from producers Bertram van Munster and Elise Doganieri ("The Amazing Race") and Mark Ordesky ("LOTR"). Essentially, it's a live-action role-playing game, and LARPing does not translate well to television.

A dozen contestants (or paladins, as they're called here) were transported to a Austria, where the fictional land of Everealm and its 12 kingdoms had been constructed. And the paladins have to compete in various tasks. Which aren't altogether exciting.

Sure, jousting is kind of fun. But shoeing horses? Really? Pretty dull.

The bottom three contestants in each episode go before The Fates - three judges - and go through another competition. The bottom two are then voted on by the other contestans, and one is banished from Everealm.

It is just as cheesy and awkward as it sounds.

Actually, it's cheesier and more awkward than it sounds because the contestants are such terrible actors. And chunks of "The Quest" are clearly scripted.

This show was originally supposed to air months ago, and now it's being dumped in the middle of the summer. You can draw your own conclusions from that.

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