I LOVE TELEVISION 


Call me "old-timey," but it seems like you can't swing a diabetic cat these days without hitting some movie where a bunch of teenagers are being physically tortured. There's Saw, Hostel, Saw II, Hostel: Part II and I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry. Now, I like the idea of torturing teenagers just as much as the next sadistic homicidal maniac with a pair of sharpened needle-nose pliers — but I don't see it as "entertainment." It's more of a cultural necessity! The girls all dress like prostitutes, the boys are all sex-crazed lunatics, and yet it's become increasingly difficult to torture and kill them in an efficient manner. For example, they're all "too cool" to go to summer camp! So where is a maniac supposed to find his teen prey? At the mall food court??

Not that I'm a homicidal maniac or anything. I just appreciate the difficulty these people must face on a daily basis.

Anyway, I'm more interested in mental than physical torture — just ask my ex-wives! (Buh-dum-DUM!) And that's why I'm pleased that television isn't letting these new-fangled Hollywood snuff films have all the sadistic fun. Check out these new reality shows debuting this week, all of which are torture-ific!

Solitary 2.0 (Fox Reality, debuts 11 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 4) — This second-season show is kind of like a cross between Survivor and you sitting in a tiny room with a gun and blowing your brains out. A group of people are each confined in their own solitary cell — about half the size of a pitcher's mound — with no one to talk to except a disembodied voice who tells them when to eat, sleep and (probably) poop. The contestants never see each other, and the last one to hit the "panic button" (which automatically releases them) wins a bunch of money. So in theory, this show could go on for years! I've been looking for a reality show where contestants sit around doing nothing but picking their toes — and finally my prayers have been answered!

Fat March (ABC, debuts 9 p.m. Monday, Aug. 6) — The plot for this one is pretty simple … and torturous! Twelve overweight contestants must walk over 570 miles, from Boston to Washington, D.C., to win $1.2 million. The plot will also unintentionally remind viewers of similar marches from the past — like the Trail of Tears or the Bataan Death March. The main difference? Political prisoners generally don't get a million bucks for losing weight.

Mission: Man Band (VH1, debuts 10 p.m. Monday, Aug. 6) — Truly the greatest decade of humankind was the early 1990s, when boy bands ruled the airwaves! However, as soon as they acquired pubes, the members of the Backstreet Boys, 'N Sync, 98 Degrees and O-Town lost their fame and fortune.

So instead of digging through dumpsters looking for half-eaten hot dogs, a few of the surviving members have decided to live in a house together, record new music and reform as an over-the-hill pop singing crew called "MAN BAND!" Torturous? Oh, you bet your sweet ass, it is! FOR EVERYONE INVOLVED! In fact, this show is a lot like Saw II except you'll be stabbing your own eardrums out.

Pass the pliers, please.

steve@portlandmercury.com

THIS WEEK ON THE BOOB TOOB

THURSDAY, AUG. 2

8:30 p.m. BRAVO HEY PAULA

Season finale! In the last psychotic episode of the season, Paula gets closer to discovering why "everyone is out to get me!!!"

10 p.m. AMC MAD MEN

Peter returns from his underwhelming honeymoon in this fabbo salute to '60s advertising.

FRIDAY, AUG. 3

10 p.m. DSC SHARKS: ARE THEY HUNTING US?

Good question. Here's another one: Do bears poop in the woods?

SATURDAY, AUG. 4

8 p.m. BBC JEKYLL

Debut! A sexy updating of the classic novel about a doctor's split personalities.

10 p.m. ABC MASTERS OF SCIENCE FICTION

Debut! Sci-fi stories come to life in this new series. Tonight: Judy Davis as a post-apocalyptic head shrinker.

SUNDAY, AUG. 5

8 p.m. TNT THE COMPANY

Debut! A new mini-series starring Chris O'Donnell about the CIA during the Cold War.

8 p.m. CW SCHOOLED

A hidden camera prank show filmed in high schools. That's right … torture those teenagers!

MONDAY, AUG. 6

9 p.m. ABC FAT MARCH

Debut! The march from Boston to D.C. gets a strong start — thanks to the host dangling a Little Caesars pizza from a stick.

10 p.m. VH1 MISSION: MAN BAND

Debut! The former boy band members meet for the first time and argue over who makes the best denture cream.

TUESDAY, AUG. 7

10 p.m. ABC I-CAUGHT

Debut! The stories behind those viral videos on the internet. FINALLY! The origin of the waterskiing squirrel!

10 p.m. FX DAMAGES

Patty's trial is in danger of imploding in this creepy and engaging new legal drama!

WEDNESDAY, AUG. 8

8:30 p.m. ABC KNIGHTS OF PROSPERITY

Though already cancelled, check out this funny heist comedy before it disappears forever!

10 p.m. MTV THE REAL WORLD: SYDNEY

Season premiere! The kids travel to Australia to live in one of the only cities left that doesn't despise them.


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