Reality past forward: from Paula drama to the return of Top Chef and Project Runway
Welcome to reality blurred’s Past Forward, a new feature that gives a quick look back at the last week in reality TV and an overview of the highlights of the upcoming week. (It’s the perfect descriptive title, but it was cleverly named by someone on Twitter who deleted their tweet, so I can’t give credit, alas. But thanks, mystery person, and to everyone else for the great suggestions.)
As with most of my coverage, this isn’t comprehensive, it’s selective, highlights based on what I think is worthy of checking out, or is just newsworthy—like fast forwarding and stopping at the good parts. So when I ignore the 1,512 debut of a VH1 dating show, it’s intentional, but those will always be on the debut schedule.
- Last week, Paula Abdul stayed in the news as ABC courted her for some reason, and we learned what really pissed her off. While new reality shows failed to connect with viewers, an old favorite did well, and continued its growth thanks to wizard power. There were fights about fights and bigoted name-calling, Chris Harrison made a surprising prediction, but that was less shocking than Self magazine’s pathetic rationale for thinning Kelly Clarkson, never mind Omarosa’s shocking news.
- Friday and Saturday One day shy of Woodstock’s 30-year anniversary, Barbara Kopple’s two-hour documentary about the festival, Woodstock: Then and Now, debuts on VH1 before re-airing on History Monday [VH1, 9 p.m.; History, Monday at 8]. Saturday, Fox Reality gives us its version of Bravo’s Housewives franchise with Househusbands of Hollywood [9 p.m.] (my full review).
Friends move to Vegas to play poker online in 2 months, $2 million [G4, 9 p.m.]. Also at 9, three new Sunday reality shows air their second episodes: ABC and Mark Burnett’s Shark Tank (definitely worth a watch), CBS’ There Goes the Neighborhood, and the fourth season of MTV’s Randy Jackson Presents: America’s Best Dance Crew. Also Sunday, two cable networks debut new series—Kourtney and Khloe Take Miami [E!, 10 p.m.], P. Diddy’s Starmaker [MTV, 10 p.m.], and a 2009 version of The Joe Schmo Show, Reality Hell [E!, 10:45], which has the same general concept—actors trick someone into thinking they’re in a nutty reality show—except it offers one-off episodes and a new reality show format each week. The galling part is that all of those are airing at the same time as Mad Men’s third season debut [AMC, 10 p.m.], and that will be, without question, the best thing that will be on TV all week.
The Dancing with the Stars 9 cast will be announced on Good Morning America, one of two times a year you actually might want to watch that show.
Miami Social ends its fast first season [Bravo, 9 p.m., an hour early], and it’s just too bad the show’s cast members aren’t as beautiful to look at as the series itself. It moves early to make room for Jeff Lewis and company on Flipping Out [Bravo, 10 p.m.], who are definitely the best ensemble docudrama crew on Bravo. Also Tuesday, Shaq takes on pro athletes on Shaq Vs. [ABC, 9 p.m.], which hopefully won’t such as hard as The Superstars. After being previewed in June, Masters of Reception [TLC, 10 p.m.] also debuts.
Fox gives us what only Fox could give us: Octomom: The Incredible Unseen Footage [8 p.m.], and the only incredible part is that anyone still cares. But the night will be rescued by Padma, Tom, and Gail: Top Chef Las Vegas debuts [Bravo, 9 p.m.], and that is followed by the finale of Top Chef Masters [Bravo, 10:15 p.m.], which has proven itself to be worthy of the name, if not better than the original.
Big Brother [CBS, 8 p.m.] will need its double-eviction night to compete because two words fill three hours tonight: Project Runway, which makes its Lifetime debut at with the all-star challenge [8 p.m.], the debut of the sixth season [10 p.m.], and then the new spin-off Models of the Runway [11 p.m.]. Just to compete with their old shows and/or be dicks, Bravo extends The Real Housewives of Atlanta [10 p.m.]. to 75 minutes.
After Whale Wars ends its amazing second season [9 p.m.], Animal Planet brings back and expands to one hour its docudrama about Jockeys [10 p.m.], which in its first season was more docu than drama, but still good TV.