TV Article

What to Watch

A day-to-day guide to notable programs.*

MONDAY SEPTEMBER 8

SERIES DEBUT SYNDICATED* Hollywood Squares (TV-PG) We're guessing this is your only chance to see Corey Feldman, Leif Garrett, and Erin Moran on the same stage. Praying is more like it. *check local listings

9-10PM Paradise Hotel (Fox, TV-14-DLS) I typed www.zackrules.com into my Netscape browser, yet, somewhat unbelievably, there was no site to be found. Give me a week, and I can fix that.

9-11PM Sex and the Single Mom (Lifetime, TV-14) Gail O'Grady proves that moms have more fun as she one-ups her teen daughter by going and getting pregnant by a married man. Take that, you little pip-squeak!

9-10PM The Reality of Reality: How Real Is Real (Bravo, TV-14) Ytossie from Temptation Island is pissed! (I know: What else is new?) She says TI producers always knew about her son, and she's among the people accusing reality TV of fudging the facts.

SERIES DEBUT SYNDICATED* Starting Over (TV-PG) It sounds like some sort of torture designed to reduce any rational-thinking person to a quivering mess: A daytime drama in which a sextet of women living together are force-fed Oprah-like instructions on bettering themselves by a team of ''life coaches.'' Meet Starting Over, a daily reality show that follows females as they work together to overcome some character flaw or achieve a specific goal -- like, for instance, crazy Andy, who proclaims that ''my biggest problem is my general disdain for women.'' Okay, then. The entire exercise basically acts as kryptonite for men (once again: life coaches), but it could be worse. I mean, it could actually be Oprah. *check local listings C

TUESDAY SEPTEMBER 9

SERIES DEBUT 8-8:30PM Whoopi (NBC, TV-14) Is it possible for a series to jump the shark in its very first episode?

9-10PM The O.C. (Fox, TV-14-DS) Luke decides to stop acting like such a jerk, while Summer realizes Seth isn't a complete dork.

SERIES DEBUT 9-10PM Tactical to Practical (History Channel, TV-G) The Hunter has become the hunted as former Navy pilot and Survivor: Marquesas contestant Hunter Ellis hosts this new program profiling how military inventions can be used in everyday life. ( I don't know where I was going with that whole Hunter/hunted thing. Sorry about that.)

9-10PM Playmakers (ESPN, TV-MA-L) A nightclub shooting leaves DH rethinking his priorities, like maybe not going to nightclubs.

8-9PM Rita (Turner Classic Movies, TV-14-L) The most beautiful woman in Hollywood history -- and I'll fight anyone who says otherwise -- was born Margarita Carmen Cansino. Taking her mother's maiden name, she redubbed herself Rita Hayworth and graced such cinematic gems as Gilda, The Lady From Shanghai, and Separate Tables (all of which air afterward on TCM). Breathily narrated by Kim Basinger, the solid but unspectacular documentary also chronicles Hayworth's five failed marriages and her battle with Alzheimer's disease, which ultimately took her life in 1987. Gushes longtime admirer Nicole Kidman, ''To watch Rita Hayworth do her thing, it is spellbinding.'' I must agree. B -- Bruce Fretts

WEDNESDAY SEPTEMBER 10

SEASON PREMIERE 8-9PM Enterprise (UPN, TV-PG-LV) UPN promised much more action on Enterprise this year, and more action is what you shall receive! (And I'm not just talking about a half-naked T'Pol imploring ''harder, harder,'' although I certainly could talk more about that if you like.) The third season premiere finds Archer (Scott Bakula, above) and the crew continuing on their mission to find the bastards (more specifically, the Xindi) who scorched parts of planet Earth. As if worrying about locating these mysterious bastards (sorry, Xindi) and possibly becoming anatomically inverted aren't bad enough, they also must deal with a sketchy alien trader looking to turn our heroes into slave labor. Which makes him a bastard, too. B

SERIES DEBUT 9-10PM Jake 2.0 (UPN, TV-PG-V) It's a fun show about a guy who gains superpowers, including the ''telepathic ability to communicate with computers.'' Sorta like when I hold my breath while in Netscape and pray, ''Please don't crash.''

SEASON FINALE 10-11PM The Family (ABC, TV-PG-L) The bad news: This summer's most underrated guilty plea-sure is now over as a million-dollar winner is crowned. The good news: You won't have to endure any more of my boring-ass write-ups about it.

10-11PM Street Time (Showtime, TV-MA) Billy Dee Williams plays a former scoundrel who has been in hiding for 20 years. Basically, ever since he screwed Darth Vader over on Cloud City.

THURSDAY SEPTEMBER 11

SERIES DEBUT 8-9PM Steve Harvey's Big Time (The WB) Steve Harvey is a funny man. Funny enough to get us to stop watching Survivor and Friends? No, of course not. I mean, we're not idiots.

9-11PM September 11 (Trio) This collection of short films dealing with (or inspired by) 9/11 by such directors as Sean Penn and Ken Loach airs on U.S. TV for the first time.

SERIES DEBUT 9:30-10PM

The Mullets (UPN, TV-PG-DL) It's a one-joke show, and that joke couldn't be any less subtle. Still, I must insist you turn to page 48 and check out my man Snierson's bitchin' soccer rocker. Like I said -- bitchin'.

SERIES DEBUT 9:30-10PM Run of the House (The WB, TV-PG-D) This new sitcom about three young adults raising their teen sister isn't necessarily Whoopi bad (meaning it doesn't force you to scream and cry simultaneously for hours on end), but it is an unprecedented celebration of blandness not seen since the days of Daddio (oh, like you don't remember). Not only are all the characters one-dimensional wonders -- the slacker, the hot chick, and the responsible guy no one listens to -- but every joke can be painfully telegraphed from a mile away. Oh, and did we mention it stars Joseph (ne Joey) Lawrence (above with Margo Harshman and Sasha Barrese), a guy whose claim to fame is sharing a catchphrase with Keanu Reeves? Run is truly the operative word. D+

FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 12

9-10PM CMT Inside Fame: Billy Ray Cyrus (CMT, TV-PG) Hair he comes! Say hey to Billy Ray, as Senor Cyrus gets his very (hairy) own edition of Inside Fame. In it, we learn that the aspiring baseball player decided to pursue a musical career when a voice in his head told him to ''buy a guitar and start a band.'' This caused Cyrus to doubt his sanity. (Go figure.) He was further inspired by a Neil Diamond concert. (Once again, sanity is a question mark at this point.) This leads to the best part of tonight's program: home videos capturing early performances in which the singer looks like a country-western Chippendale (yes, they're even scarier than the above photo of him rocking -- if that's the right word -- with Al Gore). Of course, next come the backlash and eventual redemption segments of the program. ''I wish I could say it was a blast,'' says Cyrus of his time on top. ''But I really can't look back and say anything other than it was a blur.'' Perhaps, but it was a really, really hilarious blur. C+

8-9PM CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (CBS, TV-14-SV) This episode, in which the team investigates a car crashing into a restaurant, is so awesome the folks at CBS decided to show it on Friday night! Actually, they just had nothing else to air. (R)

8-10PM The 2003 Essence Music Festival (UPN, TV-G) Steve Harvey is a funny man. Funny enough to get us to watch this awards show he's hosting? Yeah, sure. Why not?

8-9PM America's Funniest Home Videos (ABC, TV-PG) I guess a minister receiving a cell-phone call in the middle of performing a wedding ceremony is amusing enough, as long as you're not the one getting married. (R)

SEASON PREMIERE 8-9PM Reba (The WB, TV-PG-D) I'm having a flashback to the days when I actually enjoyed flashback episodes, brought on by tonight's Reba season premiere in which the family revisits past painful moments.

SERIES DEBUT 9:30-10PM All About the Andersons (The WB, TV-PG-L) Star Anthony Anderson appears to be a likable guy. So likable that I almost forgive him for appearing in the ultimate troika of horrible cinema: See Spot Run, Kangaroo Jack, and Malibu's Most Wanted. Almost. In any event, he plays a struggling actor who moves back in with his folks in this mildly engaging sitcom.

10-10:30PM CMT Got Me in With the Band (CMT, TV-PG) Dwight Yoakam gives one of his biggest fans a tour of The Tonight Show set, which I suppose would be rather odd if he weren't also performing on it.

SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 13

9PM-1:30AM Oscar de la Hoya vs. Sugar Shane Mosley (HBO Pay Per View) When in doubt, always bet on the boxer named Sugar. History is on your side.

9-10PM Sex Lives in NYC (Discovery Health Channel, TV-14) Sex and the City author Candace Bushnell talks more about ''mating and dating in New York City.'' It seems to be her specialty.

SERIES FINALE 9-11PM Race to the Altar (NBC, TV-PG) Exhibit A in the argument against reality TV. Exhibits B, C, and D, too.

10:30-11:30PM Real Sex Presents: Porn 101: XXXtra Credit (HBO, TV-MA) Wannabe fluffers show off their wares at Boston's Amateur Porn Film Festival. Have these people no shame? Because if that's the case, I've got plenty to go around.

9-10PM Ascent to Terror: Kyrgyzstan (History Channel, TV-PG) In August 2000, four American mountain climbers were taken hostage by Islamic rebel forces in Southern Kyrgyzstan. THC's new Come Home Alive series chronicles their ordeal, with actors dramatizing the events as the captives (including Tommy Caldwell and Beth Rodden, above) narrate in detailed interviews. Army and survival experts mix in helpful survival tactics, such as how to navigate a gun battle and how to get your captors to trust you. Learn some useful stuff while getting your thrills: It's educational entertainment at its best. A- -- Monica Mehta

SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 14

4:30-7PM Gone in 60 Seconds (TNT, TV-14-LV) You mean, like my interest?

7-9PM America's Funniest Home Videos: The Battle of the Best (ABC, TV-PG) An open letter to Coolio: Dude, what the hell are you doing? Stop appearing on fourth-rate reality competitions and game shows!!! You were once a promising young rap talent. ''Fantastic Voyage''? ''Gangsta's Paradise''? Those songs were dope! (Can white people say dope?) What happened? Now, instead of sampling classic funk riffs, you're stuck on an ''all-star celebrity panel'' judging ''animal mishap'' videos. That's not dope. (R)

7-8:30PM Ernest Goes to Jail (HBO Family, TV-PG) Exactly where he belongs.

7-8PM Fashion Week (style, TV-PG) Ladies who want to know approximately how much money they'll need to burn in order to look trendy might want to check out style's nightly reports from the curious spectacle that is New York's annual Fashion Week. You husbands out there may want to seriously consider shutting off all the electricity beforehand and convincing your wives we've been hit by another blackout. (Concludes Sept. 21)

8-10PM Wuthering Heights (MTV) MTV movies are usually pretty embarrassingly bad, but a musical version of Wuthering Heights in which people like Erika Christensen and Mike Vogel are forced to sing on camera? Why, that sounds positively incredible!

8-9PM* The Living Edens: The Lost World -- Venezuela's Ancient Tepuis (PBS, TV-G) Extreme athletes who happen to stumble across this will start hyper-spazzing upon bearing witness to a 3,000-foot waterfall in the latest Nature special. *check local listings

8-10PM Planet of the Apes (AMC) Yes, they blew it up. Get over it!

8-9PM Living With Tigers (Discovery Channel, TV-PG) Now this is pretty cool. With wild tigers getting dangerously close to extinction, a zoologist and filmmaker try to raise two Bengal tigers in South Africa (as opposed to Asia), teaching them to become deadly predators...without ripping their human counterparts to shreds. Good luck with that.

8:30-10PM Ernest Scared Stupid (HBO Family, TV-PG) Wait, who let this joker out of jail?

9:30-11PM Late Night With Conan O'Brien 10th Anniversary Special (NBC, TV-14) Truthfully, I didn't think the guy would last 10 weeks, much less 10 years, which just goes to show -- I'm an idiot. (Like that wasn't already painfully obvious.)

8-10PM All the Presidents' Kids (A&E, TV-G) It's not easy being a First Child. The press pries into your private life. The Secret Service trails your every move. And it's impossible to escape your daddy's shadow. None of this is news, but at least some of this docu's details are surprising. Who knew Calvin Coolidge's namesake son died from an infected blister he developed while playing tennis on the White House court? Or that Amy Carter (above with Jimmy) loved meatloaf sandwiches? Or that before getting elected President, former First Kid George W. Bush was considered ''the family clown''? Okay, that last one's not so shocking, but it's as close as All the Presidents' Kids comes to dishing dirt. Now, if they made All the Presidents' Sibs about Ted Kennedy, Billy Carter, and Roger Clinton -- that we'd want to see.

Originally posted Sep 12, 2003 Published in issue #727-728 Sep 12, 2003 Order article reprints