Geeks Who Drink
New Series: The version of Geeks Who Drink you play at the local bar can be fun, but would you watch it? What if it were hosted by the guy who used to be Chuck (Zachary Levi) and featured a smattering of semi-celebrities? Yeah, it's still not a show—but Syfy disagrees. The trivia questions pose as much of a challenge to the contestants and viewers as naming a favorite Wookie, and the drinking is strictly Lightweight Division (at least by, ahem, The Only TV Column That Matters™'s standards). At least Levi does his damnedest to liven this snoozefest up, which is far more than can be said for the host of ...
New Series: No network, not even originator E!, has figured out how to replicate the snarktastic magic of Joel McHale and The Soup. They make stinging commentary on news and pop culture of the past week look easy; the sci-fi- and geek-culture-centric Reactor gets it wrong on every conceivable (and inconceivable) level. The host (David Huntsberger, reportedly a comedian) has a personality and presence undetectable to even Ghost Hunters, the featured newsbites and clips are Twitter-ancient by airtime, and the "jokes" are seemingly written by ... let's say ... leftover interns from The Wil Wheaton Project.
Stewarts & Hamiltons
New Series: Kimberly Stewart is ... famous? ... for being the daughter of Rod and Alana Stewart, who were last relevant 40-odd years ago. Alana's husband prior to Rod was George Hamilton, whom I believe was a silent-film actor prior to the Great Depression. There are also some random sons in the mix (Ashley Hamilton, Sean Stewart and others who make Robin Thicke look like a boon to culture and society). E! is somehow squeezing eight(!) one-hour(!!) episodes out of this barely damp gene pool. The Stewarts and the Hamiltons are at least more active than the Kardashians and Jenners, if not more orange.
Monday, Aug. 31 (E!)
Return: If it seems like I'm picking on E! here, you're right! In a programming sea of absolute crap (which includes, but it not limited to, Total Divas, Rich Kids of Beverly Hills, Botched, New Money and anything involving the aforementioned Kardashians), the network has exactly two shows worth a byte of DVR space: The Soup and scripted drama The Royals. Fashion Police used to make it three, but then Joan Rivers assumed room temperature. The show should have joined her, but instead E! ignored that giant sucking sound of the talent void and has now handed the show over to Melissa Rivers (understandable), Giuliana Rancic (the living personification of "Meh") and Catty Gay Dude No. 457 (because, Fashion). In FP's first new installment since February, they'll be critiquing the outfits of the equally worthless MTV Video Music Awards. Joan is rolling over in her velvet shoebox crypt.
New Series: And another slice of genius from E!, this acronym-skirting reality show is about the Wives and Girlfriends of Sports Stars for viewers unaware of VH1's entire programming lineup. They're sassy, they're catty, they're everything the writers and producers have fabricated for them to occupy their time with while their husbands are explaining in the locker room "Sure, it's embarrassing—but it's on E!, so no one's gonna see it. Now, let's get out there and win this game, or match, or tournament, or whatever the hell we're playing" (this is what I imagine happens in pro-sports locker rooms. Just go with it).
Hollywood Game Night
New Season: Few NBC series represent the network's Fuck It We Give Up mentality as perfectly as Hollywood Game Night, now in its third mind-and-ass-numbing season. While, unlike Dancing With the Stars, it actually does have stars, the HGN celebs seem to be performing as if they have guns to their heads while glancing at offstage signs that say "Make it fun, or we'll make you dead!" Now, put that drama on-screen this fall, and I'm all in.
Listen to Bill on Mondays at 8 a.m. on X96 Radio From Hell; weekly on the TV Tan podcast via iTunes and Stitcher.