There’s something of a torrential downpour of reality shows debuting tonight, and a genuine flood of them at 10. Forgive the metaphor, as tropical storm Fay is still sitting her ass on top of us here in Central Florida, and there’s little else going on except rain and wind and more rain, although at least I have electricity and no actual flooding.
Anyway, first, one show is on its way out tonight: MTV’s second season of America’s Best Dance Crew concludes at 10 p.m. ET. Considering how it’s been considerably less well-received than the first, it should serve as a lesson in waiting a while between seasons of a show, which isn’t such a bad idea.
At 9, truTV debuts The Principal’s Office, which sounds like it could be on late-night Cinemax, but instead actually
follows real principals. Each half-hour episode focuses on multiple principals, each of whom is dealing with a particular problem. The network says it focuses on “the dramatic and hilarious encounters between students and principals.”
Also at 9, BBC America will air Dragon’s Den, the UK series that Mark Burnett is adapting for the US as Shark Tank. People pitch business ideas to a panel of rich entrepreneurs, looking for actual funding for their ideas, and as the BBC says, “if [the dragons] like the idea they’ll invest money from their own pockets.”
At 10, A&E debuts Jacked: Auto Theft Task Force, a 13-episode, half-hour series that follows New Jersey’s Essex/Union Auto Theft Task Force, which A&E says “employs a fleet of supped-up SUVs equipped with LoJack sensors and heavily reinforced steel bumpers to carry out their principal objective of locating and recovering stolen vehicles and arresting those in possession.”
Also at 10, Bravo debuts a new series that is a first of a sub-genre for the network, although a rip-off of another format. Tabatha’s Salon Takeover stars Shear Genius cast member Tabatha Coffey, who spends one week in “struggling salons” that are “all teetering on the verge of collapse and in dire need of her skilled business direction,” according to the network.
Essentially, it’s a salon version of Gordon Ramsay’s BBC and Fox series Kitchen Nightmares. The problem, according to the L.A. Times’ review, is that “hair is not as interesting as food, salons are not as dynamic or dramatic as restaurants and Coffey, well, she’s no Gordon Ramsay.”
Starting at 10, VH1 kicks off two brand-new series. The first is a Bravo-like competition, Glam God with Vivica A. Fox, which stars, in case you weren’t sure, Vivica A. Fox. On the eight-episode series, eight people “will compete head to head in pop culture and red carpet challenges — all based on the popular gossip magazines,” according to the network. They will face “A-list celebrity style dilemmas,” and also work to “create the perfect look from head to toe.” Fox judges along with a panel. Here’s its trailer:
Finally, just over eight years to the day when comedian Margaret Cho said/joked that reality TV meant “death to entertainers,” her VH1 reality series The Cho Show debuts at 11 p.m. ET. It’s yet another semi-scripted reality show, not that there should be such a thing, especially for someone who’s as interesting and dynamic as she is. It stars her parents (her mother has long been a central part of her comedy, so it’s fascinating to watch them interact); her assistant, Selene, a little person; and other members of her entourage.
In July, I asked her during a press conference with critics to differentiate between the real and the fake, and why she didn’t just open her life up to cameras, and she gave a lame answer that ignored the last part of the question. “What is scripted is kind of like our situations or what we’re going to do,” she said. “Everything else, we sort of improv around the situations. The scenes are improvisational, you know, just discussing what’s going to happen or where we’re going to go.”
The first episode has funny moments, but it’s disappointingly flat, like an extremely weak episode of her friend Kathy Griffin’s My Life on the D-List. This show clearly should have been like the Bravo series, except with Margaret’s humor and life instead of Kathy’s. Here’s the “supertrailer,” with highlights from the entire season that give hope that it’ll redeem itself, if a faux-reality show can do that: