It's summer, but that doesn't mean it's time to put down the remote. In fact, you should pick up the remote and do a few bicep curls. The Olympics are coming, and that's marathon TV-viewing at its finest. If you don't want to burn out before the grand finales of basketball and gymnastics, you'd better park yourself on the couch and start training now.
In the spirit of competition, we offer our Top 10 Girls of Summer. (Think of them as your personal trainers.) Ready, set, go!
1.) Kathy Griffin, Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List(10pm, Thursdays, Bravo)
Oh, how we've missed her--the potty mouth, the self-deprecating humor, the outer-limits dating (um, she was seeing Steve Wozniak? That alone is worth a few episodes), the extensions, the adorable staff, her sweet mom with her box of wine. Kathy! Save some Cake Soup for us!
2.) Mary Shannon, In Plain Sight (10pm, Sundays, USA)
Mary McCormack plays a wisecracking federal marshal who helps folks in the witness protection program. Though her character owes a lot to Kyra Sedgwick's in The Closer (another heroine of ours) and Glenn Close's in Damages, McCormack gives Shannon a healthy dose of sass and world-weariness along with her calm competence. Oh, and she's sexy -- complete with nude scene in the pilot. Smokin'.
3.) Marcie, The Mole (10pm Mondays, ABC)
This show is too complicated to figure out, but the apparent point is to not be the mole. Though if you are, you get lots of prestige and prizes, for about one episode. ABC brought the show back from a long hiatus, and first out of the gate to garner suspicion is Marcie, the sweet stay-at-home mom(!). Who decides it's cool to be thought of as the mole and turns out to be pretty calculating when it comes to divvying up the booty. If we were her kids we might double-check those lunch boxes.
4, 5 and 6.) Lauren, Heidi and Audrina, The Hills (August, MTV)
I know. It hardly seems like they've been gone, what with the weekly tab updates on our favorite spoiled ladies of L.A. (And that includes you, too, Whitney and Lo.) But Season Four of The Hills returns in all its faux-tanned, backstabbing glory in August, so we can see if, in fact, LC and Audrina are really on the outs, what skunky thing will Heidi and Spencer dream up next, and how will LC rise above it all? Random aside: Is anyone else bothered by the fact that Audrina's eyes always seem to be looking upward, no matter what she's looking at? It's so distracting ... but perversely cool.
7.) Beverly Johnson, She's Got the Look (10pm, Wednesdays, TV Land)
Yes, Kim Alexis is the titular host of this show, but we heart Johnson, the first black supermodel and still both drop-dead gorgeous and very grounded. Even as she's helping judge the over-35 modeling hopefuls, Johnson still manages to stay a class act -- no small feat with some of the contestants, who seem to have sprung loose from a Flavor or Rock of Love.
8.) Pamela Anderson, Pam: Girl on the Loose (Premieres 10pm, August 3, E!)
Hard to believe, but Anderson's never exactly had a reality TV show (and no, that sex tape doesn't count). And her new show, she told Entertainment Weekly, isn't a reality show, either; "it's observational documentary ... I just don't think humiliation is funny." Now that she's back with ex Tommy Lee, we're eager to see the whole enchilada -- which apparently we will. "You'll see my adventures, my boobs, my friends, my butt -- plain old domesticity." Practically Touched by an Angel.
9.) Margaret Cho, The Cho Show (Premieres August 21, VH1)
Thank goodness Cho is giving TV another chance. Her groundbreaking "All American Girl" series in '94 came to a disastrous end -- fodder for Cho's standup routines -- because execs reportedly didn't think the Korean-American Cho was "Asian enough." This time around, she's not holding anything back. She told Venus Zine: "It's very different from anything I've done on television ... I just spent the last week making a porn for the show - not a real porn, but a fake porn. I think we go a lot further than any other show I've seen. It should be pretty extreme." Just the way we like her!
10.) Alexandra Eames, Law & Order: Criminal Intent (9pm, Sundays, USA)
Yes, Vincent D'Onofrio has the showier role as manic criminal-buster Bobby Goren. But Kathryn Erbe's Eames (who even knew Eames had a first name?) gives Criminal Intent its class -- and, more importantly, a believable anchor for Goren's out-there machinations. It's not easy playing second banana to that kind of scene stealing, but Erbe has been doing it with class since the show's inception. With new episodes this summer on USA, there are even more reasons to appreciate this talented actress. And we do.
Leigh Metcalf is a writer in Seattle who specializes in entertainment and pop culture.