Elvis Mitchell: Under the Influence -- 8/7c on TCM (Re-Airs at 10:30/9:30c)
Noted film critic and overall smart fella Elvis Mitchell injects a little class into the postmortem-tribute game (and sadly, there have been a lot of tributes paid lately) with this Sydney Pollack interview, taped just a short time before the esteemed actor/director’s May 26 death.
Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations -- 10/9c on Travel (Re-Airs at 11/10c)
One of TV’s gems finally returns from a nearly four-month hiatus. Anthony visits the Asian nation of Laos, where he chews up the scenery AND its cuisine--which includes rather straightforward dishes like mushroom soup and grilled chicken. We’ll let it slide this time, Tony, but it’d better be aged camel testicles and the like from here on out! [PAGEBREAK]TUESDAY, JULY 8
Hell’s Kitchen (Season Finale) -- 9/8c on Fox
Season four hasn’t been the best (speaking of which, does anyone else become slightly ill whenever Petrozza opens his mouth?) and the novelty of Gordon Ramsay’s Simon Cowell-esque malice has certainly worn off a bit, but Hell's Kitchen is still intriguing by reality-show standards. And naturally, any reality show into which you have invested even a minute of viewing time thereby compels you to watch its finale.
30 Days (Season Finale) -- 10/9c on FX (Re-Airs at 11/10c)
Whoa…quick season! (Like the two previous seasons, it was only six episodes long.) Host/creator Morgan Spurlock once again slides into the guinea-pig role, spending 30 days on a Navajo reservation in New Mexico in an attempt to learn more about Native American culture.
Celebrity Family Feud -- 8/7c on NBC
Aha! Bet some castmembers of The Office and My Name Is Earl are cursing themselves for glossing over the really small print in their NBC contracts, which presumably said something like: “Should the National Broadcasting Company’s plans of launching a celebrity version of the game show Family Feud come to fruition, you may be asked to participate--especially if your show becomes successful. Your signature below is legally binding. Consider yourself screwed!” [PAGEBREAK]WEDNESDAY, JULY 9
The Real World (Season Finale) -- 10/9c on MTV (Re-Airs at 11/10c)
‘Nother season in the books--the 20th, to be exact. Although the slight tweak in format implemented for Real World: Hollywood--eligibility was limited to those twentysomethings pursuing a career in showbiz--proved wholly unnecessary, it was still a solid season. One roommate (Joey) left on his own terms, while another (Greg) was given the boot, and there was contrived-but-engrossing drama aplenty. Still, expect the Brooklyn-set season 21 to up the ante. [PAGEBREAK]THURSDAY, JULY 10
MUST-WATCH OF THE WEEK
Burn Notice (Season Premiere) -- 10/9c on USA
In the race for basic-cable supremacy, USA has moved near or precisely to the top in recent years--yes, thanks in large part to Monk but also because of newer series like Burn Notice. The show, about CIA operative-turned-private investigator Michael Westen (Jeffrey Donovan), is a refreshingly rare blend of thrills and laughs (think of the tone that NBC’s Chuck tries to achieve), and it’s also one of this summer’s best options. In tonight’s second-season premiere, Michael tries to help a client free his kidnapped family by outsmarting cutthroat mercenaries.
The Greatest American Dog (Series Premiere) -- 8/7c on CBS
No description necessary--or allowed by my reality TV-weary brain. [PAGEBREAK]FRIDAY, JULY 11
True Hollywood Story: Heath Ledger -- 9/8c on E!
It’s hard to say what took E! so long to concoct a Heath Ledger True Hollywood Story, but it probably wasn’t respect or healing time for the late actor’s family and friends. More than likely, this was completed months ago and put on the shelf to coincide with the release of The Dark Knight. (OK, so I’m a little skeptical of all E! shows not named The Soup!) Let’s just hope that the network for once was faithful to the “True” part of this perpetually satirized series’ title. [PAGEBREAK]SATURDAY, JULY 12
Eastern Promises (TV Debut) -- 10/9c on Cinemax
For all the acclaim that pitch-black dramas like No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood received late last year, David Cronenberg’s exquisite and equally dark Eastern Promises seemed to get lost in the shuffle. Here’s your chance to find it. Naomi Watts co-stars alongside a never-better (and never-nuder) Viggo Mortensen--who at least earned an Academy Award nod--as a very multilayered Russian mobster. As with all Cronenberg flicks, expect the unexpected…and the artful spatter of blood. [PAGEBREAK]SUNDAY, JULY 13
Living Lohan -- 10:30/9:30c on E!
Is it weird that Living Lohan has gone from audible poison to unwatchable to deplorable to disgusting to merely annoying to quasi-guilty pleasure all in the span of six episodes? Am I alone there? Tonight’s new episode, the first in two weeks, might bring the show back to audible poison because it involves Ali’s new album--which could mean hearing her sing again. Noooooo!
Generation Kill (Series Premiere) -- 9/8c on HBO
If Living Lohan doesn’t satisfy your hunger for topical reality TV, then this newbie oughtta. It’s a seven-part HBO miniseries about an elite Marine unit in the early stages of the Iraq War--based on author/journalist Evan Wright’s firsthand experiences and co-written by the brains behind The Wire. Translation: Man, is this thing gonna rack up the Emmy nominations!