This is really the best time of year to be writing a weekly TV column. It’s a time of promising summer replacements (such as “Clerks,” which has, um, already been canceled), cool film festivals and new original cable series.
Even PBS lets its hair down and gets a little experimental, in its own, starched collar kind of way.
If we can steal gameshows from England, what’s to stop the British from moving in on our reality-based TV territory? Nothing, apparently, because it’s happened. “1900 House” (9 p.m. EDT/PDT, Monday, PBS) is kind of like putting MTV’s “The Real World” into a time machine, as the Bowlers — a real-life British family of six — move into a retrofitted Victorian era London home, where they will remain for three months, as if it were in fact, the Victorian Era. “Huh … ?” you ask? Well, think of it as “Survivor” for history buffs. The Bowlers will dress in many layers of wool, eat boiled food and read hardcover books by gaslight until they either go insane or learn to party like it’s 1899. “Why …?” you ask? That’s hard to say. Not that the Victorian era wasn’t a ton of laughs, but let’s just hope that, for the sake of their 21st century neighbors, this doesn’t mean that human waste will be flying by the bowl-full from second-story windows every morning, like it does in all those Dickens stories.
Obviously, the people who came up with the title for “AFI’s 100 years … 100 Laughs” (8 p.m. EDT/PDT, Tuesday, CBS) are not very good at math. We would hope that the American Film Institute’s choices for the 100 funniest movies of all time could generate more than one laugh apiece, but what do we know? Drew Barrymore hosts this three-hour countdown that promises lots of clips from your favorite Hollywood comedies, as well as appearances by Robin Williams, Billy Crystal, Steve Martin, Whoopi Goldberg and Cameron Diaz.
Also on Tuesday, MTV kicks off for real the ninth season of “The Real World” (10 p.m. EDT/PDT). (The casting special was last week.) This time around, beautiful, historic and hard-drinkin’ New Orleans hosts the wacky hijinks and real-life drama as a brand new cast of strangers moves into another “realistic” supercool mansion. These roomies will have their work cut out for them trying to live up to the train-wreck of drama that was last year’s “Real World” in Hawaii. But, somehow, we think they will be able to find at least a little trouble to get into in the French Quarter. (We just hope that doesn’t mean that human waste will be flying by the bowl-full from second-story windows … Oh, you haven’t been to New Orleans during Mardi Gras? Nevermind, then.)
And finally this week, the Sci-Fi Channel presents another installment of its new original series, “The Invisible Man” (8 p.m. EDT/PDT, Friday). As set up in last week’s premiere, Vincent Ventresca stars as Darien Fawkes, a man accused of a crime he “mostly” didn’t commit. As bad luck would have it, Fawkes gets tapped for another one of those darned secret government experiments we hear so much about these days. This one turns him into an invisible secret agent. Call it “Can’t See TV.”