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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Top Show!

The major network shows have all had their season finales. Now it's time for summer replacements! I remember when I was little there was never anything good on television in the summer because all of the networks showed reruns. This dearth of original programming forced us out of the house to experience the best years of youth and all that rot. These days, the networks can't afford to lose any viewers, so they have a lineup of summer replacement shows. A lot of them, not suprisingly, are reality shows.

American Inventor
Twelve inventors and their products are chosen from a pool of hundreds by four judges. Those twelve are given seed money to improve on their ideas and come up with a prototype. The greatest thing about this show, like many other reality shows, is the weeding-out process in the beginning. We see hundreds of mentally unstable people proudly displaying inventions that, in the grand tradition of and thetan e-meters and orgone accumulators, stun and stupify with their inanity. The people who succeed are only marginally interesting, but the people who fail make the show entertaining. I guess I get the patent on schadenfreude while they get the patent on sucking. Wednesdays, ABC.

The Next Best Thing
What's better than a reality show featuring celebrities? How about a reality show featuring celebrity impersonators! Unlike "American Inventor," this show generates nausea and discomfort with its losers and entertainment with its winners. When an impression is spot-on, the show is really entertaining. Unfortunately, many of the impersonations are terrible. Watching comics fail is like watching the authorities hose blood off the asphault after a pile-up. Wednesdays, ABC.

Hell's Kitchen
Chef Gordon Ramsey screams at cooks on the line while diners watch and wait for their meals in what can only be described as a gustatory circus maximus (except totally boring and horrible). Mondays, FOX

So You Think You Can Dance
You can't fake good dancing. Unlike American Idol and, well, pretty much every other talent reality show out there, most of the people who try out for this show are very serious about their art. The contestants on this show really are talented athletes who train incredibly hard. If you like watching people dance well, this is a decent way to kill an hour of your week. Sure the judges are clones of the American Idol judges, but, unlike the AI judges, the SYTYCD judges don't pander, smear or appear drunk on camera. Too bad it conflicts with Top Chef (see below). Wednesdays, FOX

Top Chef
This foodie reality show is based on the Project Runway format. 15 professional chefs and caterers compete to win the title. Rocking its third season, Top Chef learned its lesson from last year; less focus on drama, more focus on food. Bravo still can't get its food terminology right, and it still can't seem to find decent background music to go with the chopping post-production, but the challenges are interesting and the results are a blast to watch. Wednesdays, BRAVO


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