August is the time of year when cable television’s innovator of “reality” shows, The Discovery Channel, encourages us to turn our thoughts to the possibility of being eaten alive by giant fish. That’s right, the 13th annual “Shark Week” kicks off today. This year, perhaps feeling the pressure to outperform all the newer reality shows in the ratings, we move a step closer to actually feeding the documentary filmmakers directly to the animals in “Giants: Sharks” (today at 10 p.m. PDT).
The cages are removed and the supersmart marine biologists voluntarily swim with Great Whites in the open ocean. “Shark Week — Uncaged,” a full seven days of docs (unlike NBC’s “West Wing Week” which only lasted for three days) officially kicks off today at 9 p.m. PDT with “Sharks 3D.” Yes, you’ll need to get the glasses.
Tom Selleck “Running Mates” (premiering today at 8 p.m. PDT), an original made-for-cable comedy about an aspiring presidential candidate (Tom Selleck) clearly demonstrates two things we’ve suspected for quite sometime. First, movies about political conventions are always more interesting than actual political conventions. And second, yes, Selleck does look kind of weird without the moustache.
Faye Dunaway (“Bonnie and Clyde“) and Teri Hatcher (“Lois and Clark” and those Radio Shack commercials with ex-football player turned actor Howie Long) costar as two of the many women in Selleck’s life.
On Tuesday, television finally gets around to figuring out some way to glorify stockbrokers as TNT premieres its original dramatic series “Bulls” (8 p.m. PDT and encoring all night).
A bunch of hip, young, idealistic stockbrokers (no, seriously) led by Robert “Ditto” Roberts III (“Father of the Bride“) defect from Ditto’s” not so young and decidedly unhip grandfather’s firm to start their own (young and hip) brokerage firm. Uh, sounds really, really cool. Stanley Tucci (“Big Night“) also stars.
Kurt Angle A couple of weeks ago, live coverage by all three major networks of Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush’s acceptance speech propelled “WWF Smackdown!” (Thursday at 8 p.m. PDT on UPN) to one of its highest ratings of the year.
This Thursday, another very important speech, this time from Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore, will likely raise the awareness of professional wrestling on UPN to an even higher level. If you don’t normally watch on nights without coverage of political conventions, you’ll need to get caught up. There is trouble in paradise as the marriage between evil ex-champ Hunter Hearst Helmsley and Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley, the beautiful but similarly evil daughter of evil promoter Vince McMahon, has run into a potential snag. It seems that Hunter is jealous of Stephanie’s relationship with evil Olympic hero Kurt Angle.
Fair warning: If you don’t want this show to become an (evil) habit, you’d better play it safe and stick with the vice president.
Chris Rock Finally this week, the long awaited return of “The Chris Rock Show” (Friday at 12 a.m. PDT on HBO) happens. The most thought-provoking, irreverent and funniest comic working today begins a new season of the best talk show on television.
This week, footage of Rock‘s visit to the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia and his grass roots efforts to “Free Bobby Brown” from a Florida jail after the erstwhile singer turned inmate’s latest bout with the law.