The broadcast networks have finally gotten around to realizing that people really do watch television over the summer. Having lost significant chunks of their audience to cable networks (who are gloriously unfettered by the same old spring/fall TV season), ABC/CBS/NBC/FOX have recently put a greater effort into getting new shows on the air in the June-July-August corridor. They may only be cheap-to-produce reality shows, but it still beats giving viewers three months worth of “Will & Grace” reruns.
ABC--“How to Get the Guy” (June 12) is a reality dating series in which four single women are shadowed by two nosy “life coaches.” Think “Taildaters” with a low-rent Dr. Phil. “Master of Champions” (June 22) will have contestants battling it out in such “unique” contests as Interpretive Pizza Tossing, Extreme Unicycle Obstacle Course and Amazing Drift Racing. Winners will have their names enshrined on the Wall of Champions. (Oh boy!) “The One: Making a Music Star” (July) is just like “American Idol,” only the contestants are forced to live together--just like every other reality show. “One Ocean View” (TBD) is yet another variation on the “Big Brother” theme, this one set on the beach. “Buy It Now” (TBD) is advertised as a “feel-good” series in which people put their old junk up for sale on eBay. Tune in on the “results” night, and you can bid on the items live. ... Funny, I don’t feel any better.
NBC--“Last Comic Standing” (May 30) makes with the ha-ha again, adding new host Anthony Clark (just as the lingering stink of “Yes, Dear” was beginning to clear). “Fear Factor” (June 6) returns for a final, icky season. “Windfall” (June 8) is pretty much the only scripted series this summer and follows a group of young people (including Luke Perry) who wins the lottery. “Treasure Hunters” (June 18) has contestants deciphering clues and overcoming physical challenges to find big prizes. TV genius Simon Cowell produces “America’s Got Talent” (June 21), which is exactly like “American Idol” only with singing, dancing and juggling.
CBS--“Gameshow Marathon” (May 31) has Ricki Lake putting C-list celebrities through recreations of classic TV gameshows. “Tuesday Night Book Club” (June 13) is a reality show exposing the trials and tribulations of upscale suburban wives. Last time out, the “American Idol”-esque “Rock Star” (July 5) found a new lead singer for INXS. This time around, they’re looking for a lead singer for Tommy Lee’s new band Supernova. A bunch of former “Big Brother” contestants return for “Big Brother 7: All-Stars” (July 6), which should be exciting for “Big Brother” maniacs and no one else.
FOX--Gordon Ramsay returns for more food-based tantrums in season 2 of “Hell’s Kitchen” (June 12). “American Idol” drops the singing and goes straight to the body rocking in another season of “So You Think You Can Dance” (May 25).