Soap Opera Weekly: Read at Joe’s 7/10/09

I know what you’re asking: “Joe, is there an unscripted show you hate even more than AMERICAN IDOL?” The answer is, “Why, yes, of course — lots of them!” Most alleged “reality shows,” like JON & KATE PLUS 8, are beneath contempt and I refuse to sully my TV screen with them. However, of the shows I can force myself to watch, BIG BROTHER is certainly at the bottom of the barrel. Perhaps it’s the premise: 12 strangers living in a house together. On most other unscripted series, the contestants live together and it’s just another minor component of the series, not the entire point of the show. Or, perhaps it’s the host: Charisma-free Julie Chen imbues even the most mundane statements — from tossing to commercial to announcing a contest — with the same sense of grave portent as reciting the Ten Commandments. And her halting delivery makes William Shatner‘s stuttering cadence sound normal. No, I know what it is: BIG BROTHER’s sense of entitlement gets me. It’s not just Chen — the entire show is full of itself. The phoniness started with the opening sequences, in which the contestants supposedly were presented with their keys to the house. They all acted surprised — in front of the cameras. Why did they think they were being filmed? Once they got to the house, everyone lost their mind over the “super-delicious” house. Is indoor plumbing still that rare in 2009? Later, right after saying, “Expect the unexpected,” Julie told the houseguests that, as usual, there is a “twist.” How is that “unexpected”? It’s just the same ol’ garbage. And I’m not looking forward to watching it fester on my screen.

On a vastly more interesting and considerably more fun note, BURN NOTICE gave us a rollicking little tale of industrial espionage and spy-hunting spiced up by Michael and Fiona doing a sort of mating dance. She wanted him to commit to her (by taking her to dinner), while he preferred to concentrate on getting his job back. What I like about their complicated relationship is that they openly acknowledge that they care for each other, it’s just tough to make a relationship work while dodging bullets and bombs. He doesn’t dally with a new girl every week, and Fi gave up trying to make him jealous with that hunky EMT last season. In the end, Michael tossed the relationship in her lap like a live grenade: He wants to get back in the game, and if Fi really cares about him, she will want that, too. Good thing Fi is a whiz with explosives.

ROYAL PAINS featured a number of familiar faces this week: Susan Misner (ex-Alison, GOSSIP GIRL; ex-Grace, ONE LIFE TO LIVE) as a pregnant woman who wanted to induce on a private island; David Alan Basche (ex-Kenny, THE STARTER WIFE; ex-Mike, LIPSTICK JUNGLE) as her tycoon husband; James Rebhorn (ex-Henry Lange, ATWT; ex-Bradley, GUIDING LIGHT) as the island handyman; and Jason Kravits (ex-Dr. Brody, AS THE WORLD TURNS; ex-DA Bey, THE PRACTICE) as a smarmy doctor at Harbor Heritage. Hank got a chance to MacGyver a splint for Will, saline solution and do blood-typing with a mirror. He also drilled into a guy’s head with a half-inch bit to relieve a hematoma! (The drilling was fine, but I did not need to see that compound fracture to his leg! Yikes! Still, even that was better than watching the pathetic “wedgie” competition on BIG BROTHER…

Originally published on

Oh, yeah? Sez you!

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