It's now been about a year since the revelation that Bear Grylls of Man vs. Wild was not actually experiencing all the late-night danger that we had led to believe he was. To the show's credit, everything was dealt with in a relatively forthright manner; the most recent season was honest to a fault about what was really going on, which was still pretty extreme. It's a lesson for other similar shows whose producers believe that they can't provide entertainment without artifice, and that viewers made savvy by a decade of reality TV aren't well aware by now that not all of it is real.
Tonight's third season premiere (Discovery, 10 PM) finds Bear a little closer to the comforts of America than usual, as he is plunked down in Baja, where an unanticipated problem quickly makes itself evident: a bee sting that swells his eyes nearly shut. And vision is important when you're facing off with a diamondback rattlesnake. This all comes in addition to the usual big issue on desert episodes of this show: finding something to drink. All in a day's work.
Greatest American Dog (CBS, 8 PM): I'm going to miss Tillman, the perfect example of an ugly-cute dog. I know a lot of these purebreds are dopey from inbreeding, but he was still adorable. How he and Ron got eliminated over the vile dog abuser Teresa is a real mystery.
So You Think You Can Dance (Fox, 8 PM): The last performance show will find Joshua, Katee, Twitch, and Courtney dancing for the prize (and I listed them in what I believe is the likeliest order of victory). That's not a bad final four: I probably would have swapped in Will for Twitch, but all in all America did its job. Good thing you guys know more about dancing than me.
Baby Borrowers (NBC, 9 PM): This is a reunion show, but one that's a little more serious than the average reality dish-a-thon, since it's a town hall hosted by Hoda Kotb of Today and will feature commentary from Dr. Drew Pinsky. So the show will apparently acknowledge some of the controversy surrounding its use of babies. I guess I'm just not that outraged. Reality TV has worn me down.
Ghost Hunters International (SciFi, 9 PM): Considering Africa is the home of the human race and thus should have more ghosts than anywhere else, this series needs to spend more time there. Tonight, a visit to a castle in Cape Town, and to a hotel that is haunted by a prostitute.
Monster Quest (History, 9 PM): This is different: an episode of Monster Quest that actually does touch on history, as an investigation is mounted regarding a vampire scare in 18th century New England that went on for years. The show also looks at people today who claim to be vampires, presumably filmed in a darkened studio.
Mythbusters (Discovery, 9 PM): A new season begins with a bang-up assignment: seeing if a steak can be tenderized using explosives. Who thinks this stuff up? It's like asking if you can string dead worms together to make a bicycle tire: why would you even want to try? Also, the team tests the theory that people burn more gasoline when they are driving under stress.
Project Runway (Bravo, 9 PM): I don't know that Emily was any worse last week than about five others, but she got tossed aside anyway. Tonight, speed skater Apolo Anton Ohno is on hand to guest judge as the designers tackle a sports theme; it will hopefully look better than last season's Tiki Barber disaster. A guy wins one dance contest and he thinks he knows all about fashion.
Hard Knocks: Training Camp With the Dallas Cowboys (HBO, 10 PM): HBO visits a different NFL training camp every year to relate the human drama of men fighting for a job. It's more interesting than it probably sounds to those of you who aren't into football, even if from my perspective the perfect Dallas training camp would involve about 50 season-ending injuries.
Shear Genius (Bravo, 10 PM): The contestants have to use items found in a kitchen cabinet to style hair, and are then asked to come up with designs for both dogs and their owners. Doesn't anyone believe in the old fashioned, ungroomed dog anymore?
Lewis Black's Root of All Evil (Comedy Central, 10:30 PM): Andrew Daly and Greg Giraldo debate what is worse: steroids or breast implants. I think the deciding factor here is the phenomenon of 'roid rage. I've never been beaten senseless by someone with breast implants, although I know someone who could make that happen if I had a spare $500.