Return/Summer Burn-Off: Like Pushing Daisies and Eli Stone before it, once-great series Dirty Sexy Money is getting the Saturday-night brush-off from ABC—in the dead of summer, no less. Of course, by the time it was canceled, DSM had lost most of its momentum and luster, devolving into a shock-of-the-week soap opera that barely resembled the sly, classy rich-folk drama of Season 1. Maybe the final four episodes (ending Aug. 8) will refocus the show and tie up the 475 loose plot threads; maybe Donald Sutherland will be left with something even more embarrassing than Fool’s Gold on his IMDb listing. Could go either way.
The Bill Engvall Show Saturday, July 18 (TBS)
Season Premiere: Speaking of dumping a show on Saturday, why is TBS slotting one of its successful originals—by non-Tyler Perry standards—on the least-watched night of the television week? Could be part of Bill Engvall’s self-proclaimed mission to “bring back the family sitcom,” and damned if he hasn’t nailed it: His Show is as dull, forced and preachy as anything circa The Cosby Show, minus that Huxtable “edge,” and a waste of co-stars Nancy Travis and Brian Doyle Murray, both of whom have been on dozens of better sitcoms than this—yes, even counting Travis’ stint on Becker. OK, no more IMDb nuggets …
Ace of Cakes Sunday, July 19 (Food Network)
Season Premiere: Duff travels to Alaska to construct a fondant mountain, er, cake for the state’s 50th anniversary! Since it was taped several months ago, maybe Gov. Sarah Palin will make a cameo … yeah, don’t count on it. Back at Charm City Cakes, the crew works on confections based on the Hubble telescope and Jupiter. All of which are well and good, but when is The Greatest Rock Band on Earth, Clutch (fronted by Neil Fallon, brother to Charm City’s Mary Alice), going turn up on the show again? In one 2007 episode, they got more exposure on the Food Network in 20 minutes than from 15 years of MTV.
Torchwood Monday, July 20 (BBC America)
Season Premiere: Don’t get too excited, Cap’n Harkness fans: “Season 3” of British sci-fi series Torchwood is but five episodes, running each night this week and ending on Friday, July 24—the true definition of miniseries. Still, it’s better than no Torchwood at all, and the team (what’s left of them, anyway: Harkness, Gwen and Ianto) is facing— wait for it—the biggest threat to the human race yet, imaginatively-named alien invaders The 456. Seems they want 10 percent of Earth’s children or they’ll exterminate the planet, to which The Only TV Column That Matters™ replies: Hell, take 30 percent of the little bastards! Plenty more where those came from … that I know of.
Dance Your Ass Off Mondays (Oxygen)
I’ve been compelled to comment on this sequined abortion again, so here goes: Dance Your Ass Off is the most idiotic, exploitative reality-competition show since The Puppy Bowl, and absolutely no one should look directly at it. Oh, and there’s still a Utah guy on it.
Hell’s Kitchen Tuesday, July 21 (Fox)
Two-Hour Season Premiere: This one is strictly for my personal assistant Jackie: I think Gordon Ramsey’s scream-at-the-chefs shtick has run its course, but she still loooves him. This season’s twists are alternately passé (male vs. female teams, yawn) and inspired (one chef goes head-to-head in a challenge against … Ramsey himself!), but there’s still gonna be a whole lotta yelling and hysterical F-bombs. Just like here at the office, right, Jackie?