There's a purity to the first season of any reality show, because no one is playing an assigned role yet. The second go-round for VH1's Celebrity Rehab, which concludes this week (Thursday, 10 PM), has not worked for me as effectively as the first edition earlier this year did, since it is now known what gets the most attention. The biggest problem was the decision to bring back Jeff Conaway, whose issues are so extreme and deep-seated that a superficial rehab stay can't possibly do him much good. He was in effect rewarded for his antics during Season One, when what he really needs is to be cut off from the cameras entirely. The fine line between the need to create good televised drama and the need to best serve the interests of sick people shifted in the wrong direction this time around. The season finale finds the rehabbers preparing to re-enter the world, and taking stock of the improvements that have hopefully been made. VH1 and Dr. Drew Pinsky should think long and hard about a third season, or at least make it Conaway-free.
Also this week:
Monday: Heroes (NBC, 9 PM): The "Villains" cycle ends and Heroes takes a break until February sweeps, during which time we might be able to decipher what the hell we've been watching for the last three months. Ando leads the mission to rescue Hiro, Sylar holds various Bennets hostage, and the brothers Petrelli (Milo Venitmiglia, Adrian Pasdar) have a smolder-off.
Tuesday: The Biggest Loser: Families (NBC, 8 PM): The season finale will open up with the revelation of who America wanted in the final three, Ed or Heba. Spousal drama! It's going to be a tense Christmas dinner, and not only because neither of them can eat like they used to. Vicky and Michelle are the others working hard to be a loser.
Wednesday: Stylista (CW, 9 PM): Someone gets the coveted job with Elle magazine tonight, and if current trends hold, she (or he--can't count out DyShaun) might be the last person ever hired as a print journalist. The final task involves designing a cover featuring Eve, which I suppose means time travel back to 2001 is also one of the duties. Seriously, who still cares about Eve? Megan will probably win, as she looks the part.
Friday: Whale Wars (Animal Planet, 9 PM): This short-lived but buzzworthy series ends its (first?) season with the Sea Shepherd taking dead aim on the key ship in the Japanese fleet, while looking for ways to further publicize their cause.
Saturday: Crusoe (NBC, 9 PM): Crusoe tries to test his mettle by recreating some of the coming-of-age challenges Friday once undertook, only to find his companion is still haunted by an old failure. Cheer up, Friday: you're not the one lost halfway around the world.
Sunday: Rock of Love Charm School (VH1, 9 PM): This edition had a tough act to follow, considering the standard set by the Flavor of Love girls, but the likes of Destiney and Heather (last seen displaying her etiquette by getting in an argument while sitting on a toilet) have kept things suitably skanky. Who will be awarded the crown during this week's season finale?