Confession time: I am, despite what some of you might think, only human. So how on God’s green Earth was I supposed to resist BACHELOR PAD? For those somehow unfamiliar with this most glorious of guilty pleasures, the show takes pretty much every crazy, unpopular or annoying person to have ever failed to find love on THE BACHELOR or THE BACHELORETTE and shoved them not only under one roof, but into one bedroom. Just add alcohol and… let the games begin! Right off the bat, it becomes clear this is not to be taken seriously — even by reality-TV standards. After all, they brought Wes — the most notorious villain in the history of the show (as he’ll happily tell you) — back. Did I mention that Michelle — aka the crazy stalker? — is in the house, too? And these folks aren’t simply looking for love. They’re looking to win the heart of someone… and take home $250,000. This much cheesyness can’t be ruled over by one person, so Chris Harrison has a host in former contestant Melissa Rycoff. Yup, this is more fun than you can shake an ugly-behavior stick at. But could someone please tell ABC that two-hours of any reality show is an hour too much?
Spookfest THE GATES seems finally to have morphed into a fun little bit of summer fluff. The first few episodes seemed determined to throw something new at us every five minutes — vampires! werewolves! a teenage succubus! — but now, as was perhaps inevitable, it has stopped relying on supernatural revelations and begun delving into the lives of the neighborhood’s residents. It was a little off-putting how easily Nick accepted that he’s living in a literal dead zone, but watching his oblivious wife try and bring together the neighborhoods witchy women (“Watching stressed out trophy-wives get catty with underfed divorcees? Who doesn’t love that!” asked one party guest) is a blast. If DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES were half this entertaining, I’d be looking forward to that show’s return. Where visiting Wisteria Lane has become a chore, hanging out behind THE GATES has become the guiltiest of pleasures.
Soap fans know that this week, GENERAL HOSPITAL’s Brenda returns. But while that soap seems to be going all-in with it’s Brendapalooza gamble (the entire ABC soap line-up is pre-empted today in order to show key episodes from her time in Port Charles), ALL MY CHILDREN has quietly become one of the best soaps on the dial. The story in which Angie has to decide between taking medication to help her failing vision or stop taking it for the sake of her unborn child is the kind of drama soaps have always done best. Better still, the show’s scribes have brought back its sense of humor. Having been nearly unwatchable a year ago, it’s nice to see a show not only rebound but prove that some things truly do improve with age.
When it comes to cable-news pundits, few find themselves straddling the fence when it comes to public opinions about their on-air personas. Whether you’re talking about FOX News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly or MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, people either love or hate them. But MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann has found himself in the unusual position of being raked over the coals in some corners not for his political views (which are liberal) or his often theatrical Special Comments (famously mocked on SATURDAY NIGHT LIFE by Ben Affleck), but rather for… his daring to drop the occasional timely reference into the commentary he does on NBC’s FOOTBALL NIGHT IN AMERICA? Olbermann was booted from the pre-show because, according to network honchos, it was interfering with his hosting COUNTDOWN. But to hear other outlets — most notably the New York Post ( which is, not coincidentally, owned by Rupert Murdoch, who has a legendary hate-on for all things MSNBC) — tell it, the bespectacled host was excised because of, among other things, comments during the sportscast alluding to Sarah Palin. What really happened is anybody’s guess, but the bottom line is that when it comes to epic pissing matches, few are as entertaining as the endless war that rages on between, as they’d describe one another, the left-leaning commies at MSNBC and the right-wing nutjobs at Fox News. Better still, the original battle (Olbermann vs. Sean Hannity) has given birth to a spin-off (Maddow vs. O’Reilly), giving hope to us all that the good times will keep on rollin’.