Thursday, July 29 (MTV)
Season Premiere: So what if this season doesn’t actually take place on the Jersey Shore? The Juiceheads are back! In order to rush out another season of its surprise late-2009 hit, MTV had to move winter filming from snowbound New Jersey (come on—how funny would that have been?) to the sunnier climes of Miami Beach, but The Situation, Snooki, Pauly D, J-Woww and the other four are still as obnoxious/fascinating (obnoxinating?) as ever. Now is the time to watch Jersey Shore, because it’s just on the cusp of pathetic sadness, right before these grease stains slide into pre-Celebrity Rehab irrelevance. There’s a reason they switch out the casts of The Real World every year.
Thursday, July 29 (Lifetime)
Season Premiere: No, companion series Models of the Runway will not be back—a gaggle of pampered sticks fighting, crying, hugging and marveling about how “Crazy, oh my gawd!” the competition is doesn’t make for compelling television without Tyra Banks’ looming forehead. Project Runway, however, will now be blown out to 90 minutes per episode, and tonight’s Season 7 kickoff features a record 17 fashion designers—some even straight! Where entrants “Mondo” and “Casanova” stand, can’t really say. Bonus Utah Connection: McKell Maddox.
Sunday, Aug. 1 (AMC)
Series Debut: AMC struck gold with Mad Men and Breaking Bad, but Rubicon—a “political thriller” that’s about as “thrilling” as falling asleep in front of C-SPAN— doesn’t complete a trifecta. The setup: A New York City intelligence analyst (James Badge Dale, looking more Twilight than Patriot Games) begins asking questions after a personal tragedy and peeling back the layers of a vast corporate/political conspiracy that’s even less interesting than that sentence. The listless casting doesn’t help—sure, most of the Mad Men were unknowns when it debuted, but at least they “popped”; no one in Rubicon has even a fraction of the charisma of Guido No. 6 on Jersey Shore. Try again, AMC—maybe you can pick up …
The Good Guys
Monday, Aug. 2 (Fox)
Summer Finale: The Only TV Column That Matters™ admits it: I was pretty high on The Good Guys’ pilot episode in May, a bracingly ridiculous splash of cop-show bravado that stopped just short of Reno 911! territory and tossed in a bit of heart and respect for the classic pre-CSI genre. Too bad they’ve done the same episode nine times over now, and even the small audience hooked in the beginning has split—and this show is supposed to anchor Fox’s Friday nights in the fall. Bradley Whitford is still hilariously fearless as mustachioed Dallas cop Dan Stark, but the rest of The Good Guys aren’t keeping pace. Showrunner Matt Nix better whip up some of that TV teamwork magic he engineers so effectively on USA’s Burn Notice, or this is deader than The Rockford Files (either incarnation).
The Bad Girls Club
Tuesday, Aug. 3 (Oxygen)
Season Premiere: Every season, I say “Ain’t no way they’re going to top last year’s skanksplosion!” And every season, I have to correct myself with “How the hell did they just top last year’s skanksplosion?!” The Bad Girls Club, like Bacon of the Month or an STD, really is the gift that keeps on giving. This time around, seven high-maintenance/low-self-esteem pole candidates are being plied with alcohol, spite and daddy issues in Miami—a total departure from the previous four seasons in Los Angeles. Will there be unprovoked fights and drunken hookups, as well as unprovoked hookups and drunken fights? Has the bacon arrived yet?