The VH1 series Rock of Love, Flavor of Love, and I Love New York may have been entertaining, but there wasn't a whole lotta actual love created. The seven combined seasons of those shows gave us five brief phony relationships, whatever Bret Michaels has going right now with Ambre, and Flavor Flav deciding to stick with his civilian squeeze instead of "Thing 2." However, the relationships between the contestants on these shows and cold hard cash are, I feel safe in saying, affairs that will last eternally. VH1 is acknowledging the obvious, and hopefully bidding a fond farewell to all these people forever, with I Love Money, premiering Sunday at 9 PM.
The format here appears to be cribbed from the various Real World/Road Rules challenges on MTV, raising the horrifying specter that this could become a new VH1 franchise. Contestants compete in games and are eliminated one by one until someone walks away at season's end with $250,000. The opening challenge involves players stripping down and grabbing money in a booth; the most successful get to pick teams, and the one player not picked (they begin with an odd number, 17) will be eliminated on the spot. This show could certainly be as successful as its predecessors. At least we'll know that any hookups will be genuine, to the extent anyone in the cast is still capable of genuineness.
Fear Itself (NBC, tonight 10 PM): I've really been looking forward to this episode, titled "Eater," because it was directed by Stuart Gordon, the man behind the comical gross-out classic Re-Animator. Elisabeth Moss stars as a young cop whose first night on the job is spent watching a legendary serial killer, which sounds easy enough until her colleagues begin freaking out.
Swingtown (CBS, tonight 10 PM): It was good to see Janet loosening up last week and indulging in pot brownies and skinny dipping. I was there kids, and let me tell you, that's basically all we did when we weren't going to discos and imitating the Fonz. Tonight, Susan wants to attend a fundraiser at the Deckers to benefit an actor in legal trouble, but Bruce opposes her involvement. Ah, Brucey baby, mellow out. Have a brownie.
A Capitol Fourth (PBS, Friday 8 PM): Having spent some time in the nation's capital, I can tell you that there's something about a Fourth of July concert on the Washington Mall. That something, unfortunately, tends to be maniacal crowds, kiln-like heat, and musical acts that epitomize middle-of-the-road snooze. This year's concert features the National Symphony (good) and Jerry Lee Lewis (better), as well as Taylor Hicks (uh-oh) and Huey Lewis and the News (can I change my citizenship?). Jimmy Smits hosts.
Big Love (HBO2, Saturday 8 PM): In this time slot for the rest of the year, HBO2 will rerun the first two seasons of what is now their one remaining drama that has both a decent audience and solid critical acclaim. The pilot episode set up the continuing conflict between Bill Henrickson (Bill Paxton), beleaguered husband of three, and church patriarch Roman Grant (Harry Dean Stanton). Given what an unlikable jerk Bill became in the second season, it's interesting to see him here as a relatively sympathetic figure.
A Gunfighter's Pledge (Hallmark, Saturday 9 PM): Fifteen years ago, when he was on all those magazine covers as the heartthrob of the moment, did Luke Perry ever imagine he would one day be starring in movies on the Hallmark Channel airing over a holiday weekend? Perry plays a sheriff who intervenes on the side of a woman who is fighting to keep her land under pressure from a businessman played by C. Thomas Howell, himself no stranger to lowered expectations. Howell could get shot and left for coyotes, and it would still be a step up from Celebracadabra.
Law & Order: Criminal Intent (USA, Sunday 9 PM): The murders of three parents in front of their children appears to be the work of a sick new serial killer. What's curious about this episode is its title: "Please Note We Are No Longer Accepting Letters of Recommendation From Henry Kissinger." The L&O franchise typically favors grave episode titles, preferably of one word. There's rarely any snark, much less something that looks like a song on a Panic At The Disco CD.
Army Wives (Lifetime, Sunday 10 PM): It appears that what my parents told me is true after all: motorcycles are the vehicle of the devil. Or at least that's what Frank is thinking, now that Denise is spending so much time on hers, and with her new male cycling buddy. Also, Joan's temporary replacement arrives, and Trevor comes home to a hero's welcome.
Extreme Living (HGTV, Sunday 10 PM): HGTV is one of those channels that is constantly introducing new series, in part because they need to give the winners of Design Star something to do. This show will spotlight people living in situations that most would deem unacceptable: either an oddball home or an iffy setting or both. The premiere episode highlights an architect who wanted to take advantage of an incredible view of San Francisco on a steep hillside, so he decided to make his home a virtual bridge crossing a ravine running through the property.
In Plain Sight (USA, Sunday 10 PM): One of the things I like about this show is that it doesn't pretend that the second chance provided by the witness protection program is something that everyone in it appreciates. Most of them were scoundrels beforehand, and have all sorts of trouble giving that life up. This week, Mary has to work to protect a pair of brothers she's been tending to for years when one of them, now a college basketball player, ends up badly in debt because of gambling.
Have a safe and happy holiday weekend, W2Wers.