The sad reality of summer TV | EW.com

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The sad reality of summer TV

Faced with a motor-mouthed Shatner or Shaq-ing up for a ''Big Challenge,'' reviving the summer network rerun tradition starts looking good to the Glutton. Plus: his ''Sopranos'' obsession, top five preppy villains of the '80s, and your mail

The sad reality of summer TV

Can you believe how shocking that Lost finale was? You know, with Charlie’s death, the flash-forward, and Jack’s ridiculous-looking Chia Beard. What’s that? You missed it? Hey, no problem. You can simply check it out when it re-airs…um, never! The summer rerun is slowly becoming a thing of the past, especially for serialized programs. Gone are the days when we could join any show late and be comforted in the knowledge that those missed early episodes were waiting for us once June rolled around. I never really thought I would curse the day when networks offered us year-round original programming, but that was before said original programming included William Shatner driving around a racetrack in something called Fast Cars & Superstars. This ”high-octane” reality show is just one of the many offerings ABC is choosing to present instead of trying to win back Lost fans. There’s Ex-Wives Club, a show in which Marla Maples gives advice to the recently divorced, and Shaq’s Big Challenge, which, on the plus side, tackles the issue of child obesity. (On the minus side, it features the star of Kazaam.) And let’s not forget about The Next Best Thing, whose goal is to find America’s best celebrity impersonator. (Note: Shows that blatantly impersonate American Idol are not eligible.)

But it’s not just ABC — there is plenty of blame to go around. If you came late to the Heroes party and were hoping to see how it all began, you’ll have to wait at least two more months. But look what NBC has in store for you instead: Age of Love! It’s a dating program featuring tennis star Mark…Philipreposterous? Philadelphia? Phili… Hell, I can’t even spell his name, much less care about his show. Meanwhile, over at CBS, instead of Survivor: Fiji, the network is showing Pirate Master, which, come to think of it, is actually the same exact show — so I suppose I have no beef there. That leaves us with Fox. I fell off the most recent seasons of 24 and Prison Break, but I’d still like to know how they end. Instead, the only mystery I’ve been left to unravel is why everyone keeps disappearing from On the Lot. In less than a week, Fox’s reality filmmaking competition lost six contestants, one host (Chelsea Handler), millions of viewers, even Brett Ratner — with barely any explanation whatsoever. I have an explanation: The show stinks!

But it’s not just crummy network summer offerings that make me long for the days of reruns. It’s also that many of these hibernating serialized shows are just so dang good. I could — and would — watch Heroes’ recent ”possible future” episode or the Ben flashback installment of Lost as many times as the networks dared to air them. In fact, they practically demand repeat viewings if you want to figure everything out. And tell me that the carefree comedy of Ugly Betty — which seems practically made for the lazy days of June — wouldn’t be just as delicious on a second serving. You can’t, because it would be. If it were on right now.

I know what you’re thinking: Why don’t I just wait for the DVD or go watch these programs online? The answer is simple: I’m cheap. C’mon, paying for network television? It just seems wrong. And while I could bypass iTunes and get the episodes straight from the network website for free, I don’t have any desire to watch TV on my computer while sitting at a desk. I want TV on my TV! While I stretch out on the couch, spill Cheez Doodles on the rug, and blame the kids for the mess. Instead of that bliss, we’re faced with networks that are less concerned with building — and rewarding — an audience for a new drama like Heroes than wasting our time with a tennis player like Mark…Philipasta? Philimpossible? Oh, you know who I’m talking about.

THE TOP FIVE MOST AWESOMELY PREPPY ‘80S MOVIE VILLAINS

1. James Spader in Pretty in Pink
The white suit. The dangling cigarette. Quite simply, the prep villain against which all others must be measured.

2. William Zabka in The Karate Kid
More of a lifetime achievement award for his jerk work in Karate, Back to School, and Just One of the Guys.

3. Ted McGinley in Revenge of the Nerds
The notorious ”show killer” simply kills as Stan Gable. The sweater-tied-around-the-neck look is classic McGinley.

4. Craig Sheffer in Some Kind of Wonderful
He’s ripping off my boy Spader a bit. Which could be why Lea Thompson dumps him.

5. Aaron Dozier in Better Off Dead
The thinking man’s preppy ’80s villain, he even comes complete with the totally badass name of Roy Stalin.

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