I know … you're planning to watch live coverage this week of the Beijing Olympics on the networks of NBC. I am, too. But there are plenty of great offerings elsewhere on television in the days to come, as detailed below.
SATURDAY, AUGUST 9
Jonas Brothers: Live & Mobile (jonasbros.mtv.com, 8 a.m. ET)
Live. Beginning at 8 a.m. ET and continuing through 8 p.m., MTV will stream a live feed of Nick, Joe and Kevin Jonas at jonasbros.mtv.com as they prepare for their concert tonight at Madison Square Garden. (If you are reading this on Friday August 8, there will be a live stream starting at 4 p.m. of the JoBros prepping for their concert at New York's Jones Beach.) Meanwhile, MTV the television network will offer highlights from these streams plus new footage at 2 p.m. and 10 p.m. MTV will also dip into the online streams twice per hour during commercial breaks.
Hope for Your Home (TLC, 8:30 p.m. ET)
Series Premiere. Real estate expert Kirsten Kemp Becker is the host of this new home-improvement reality series with a twist – she'll be helping desperate homeowners on the verge of financial disaster brought on by the deteriorating real estate market. Becker will guide families in their efforts to increase their home's value, and once those improvements are complete, the homeowners will have the option to refinance and stay in their renovated homes or sell and find more affordable housing.
Primeval (BBC America, 9 p.m. ET)
U.S. Series Premiere. Torchwood recently completed its second season on BBC America, and Doctor Who just ended its fourth on Sci Fi Channel. What's a fan of British science-fiction supposed to do now? How about checking out this thriller in which prehistoric creatures are found alive and well in the present day? No, they aren't clones like the dinosaurs in the Jurassic Park movies. They are entering our time through one of those problematic rifts that drive so much of the storytelling in the two above-mentioned shows. Much of the action revolves around Nick Cutter, an evolutionary zoologist who leads a team of scientists that tries to figure out what is happening and protect people from this new danger. As if that isn't enough to deal with, Cutter is startled to learn that his wife, who disappeared many years ago and was presumed dead, has actually been traveling through time! (Is there a connection? What do you think?) Cutter also has to deal with two government officials who insist they have to keep the prehistoric visitors secret from the public. Douglas Henshall stars.
SUNDAY, AUGUST 10
Generation Kill (HBO, 9 p.m. ET)
The troops of First Recon finally get a chance to use their skills and exploit some intelligence from Iraqi locals about an ambush at a bridge, allowing them to watch as better armed LAVs take the location. Later, they learn that the enemy was not who they imagined. Also, Bravo continues north to Al Muwafagiyah, where they are tasked with setting up another roadblock and destroying the Republican Guard outpost, which is located in the town's only school.
Mad Men (AMC, 10 p.m. ET)
There's trouble on the set of a commercial on the day that Don skips work, and later, Don brings Betty to dinner hoping she will charm the disgruntled client. Jon Hamm and January Jones star.
Explorer: Zoo Tiger Escape (National Geographic Channel, 10 p.m. ET)
Premiere. Remember that terrible incident on December 25, 2007 when a 243-pound Siberian tiger escaped from her open-air enclosure at the San Francisco Zoo and mauled three young men who were later rumored to have been taunting her? One of the three -- a 17-year-old boy – was killed and the tigress was put to death. This incident marked the first time that a visitor to an accredited United States zoo had been killed by an escaped animal. What really happened that night? Is it likely that a tiger would behave in such a manner unless it was under extreme duress? Was the big cat exhibit flawed in its design? (Prior to the aftermath of that incident, the design of the moated big cat grotto at the San Francisco Zoo had remained unchanged without any problems for more than 60 years!) Could those two tragic deaths have been prevented? And what are zoos across the country doing to control both animals and humans and avoid similar horrors? This program has some of the answers.
MONDAY, AUGUST 11
Elvis: Viva Las Vegas (CMT, 8 p.m. ET)
Premiere. CMT kicks off a week of special programming honoring Elvis Presley with this new special hosted by ABC News journalist Elizabeth Vargas featuring rarely seen footage of Elvis performing in Las Vegas and interviews with some of the people who were closest to him. Also included are performances of some of the King's Vegas classics by many of today's top recording artists: Toby Keith and Joe Perry sing Mystery Train, Faith Hill performs the gospel classic Peace in the Valley, Chris Isaak and Brandi Carlile duet on Love Me Tender, Three 6 Mafia perform In the Ghetto, Chris Daughtry sings Suspicious Minds and Celine Dion croons Can't Help Falling in Love. Beyonce, 50 Cent, Tom Jones, Miranda Lambert, Paul McCartney, Willie Nelson, Jon Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora, Lisa Marie Presley, Priscilla Presley, Nancy Sinatra and Rob Thomas also appear. Elvis: Viva Las Vegas will be available on DVD exclusively at Wal-Mart and Sam's Club starting tomorrow.
The American Mall (MTV, 9 p.m. ET)
Premiere. It's Promote a DVD Night on the networks of MTV. Well, some of them, anyway. While CMT debuts the special Elvis: Viva Las Vegas in advance of its DVD debut tomorrow, MTV is doing the same thing with The American Mall, an original movie musical from some of the producers of the Disney Channel phenomenon High School Musical. It's about the budding romance between a working class girl with musical talent whose mom runs a store at a shopping mall and an aspiring rock star who works there as a janitor – and the nasty rich girl who uses her power and influence to keep them apart and claim the janitor-rocker as her own. (Do we have to mention that her father owns the mall?) Older critics will likely dismiss Mall as a mindless made-for-MTV movie, but its target 'tween and young teen audience will find much to enjoy, according to JackMyers junior critic Maya Motavalli. Her review follows:
At last, a movie that takes place in a mall -- my favorite place to hang out! MTV's The American Mall is a great TV musical that brings something different to the table. The storyline is the same as so many others, especially High School Musical 2, but the music pushes past all that and gives me something new and fresh that I can't stop listening to.
Musicals are my favorite kind of movies. If a movie has great music it can only add to the experience of watching. My favorite song in American Mall is Dreaming Wide Awake, which reminded me completely of the classic Breaking Free from HSM. It's a great song with lyrics that speak for themselves. I also liked A Little Bit of Heart Somewhere, a sweet pick-me-up song that would make me smile if I was upset. I didn't like At the Mall very much. It was like: We're in the cafeteria, time for a major dance number! The song was all about what you can do at the mall, but mostly it was saying you can shop for guys. It's a better song to listen to than to watch. Survivor was another dud: A big sexy dance number about staying strong after losing your man. I'm not interested in watching 15 dancing girls in tight black dresses and high boots. It just turns me off. I guess the guys will like it, though.
The actors in the movie were great, but I had never seen any of them before. Nina Dobrev (Ally the good girl), Rob Mayes (Joey, who is extremely hot, by the way), Autumn Reeser (Madison the mean girl) and Yassmin Alers (Ally's mom) were fun to watch on the small screen. They were all also pretty great singers and dancers, so I'd love to see them again.
The plot was so-so. A girl works in a struggling store her mom owns in a mall she practically lives in. A mall janitor sees her, likes her, and starts going out with her after stalking her a bit. Meanwhile, a spoiled-rotten heiress tries to get what she wants and separates the two by stealing the guy away to be her model. The girl's all upset, and then the guy realizes that the heiress and everything she has to offer isn't what he wants, so he apologizes and everything is okay. Where is the originality?
Overall I thought American Mall was really good. It has some real talented actors and amazing music that anyone can enjoy. And honestly, who wouldn't like a movie that takes place at the mall?
TUESDAY, AUGUST 12
E:60 (ESPN, 7 p.m. ET)
Series Return. After a three-month hiatus, ESPN's multi-subject newsmagazine E:60 returns tonight with the first of 14 new shows. Highlights of this installment include a profile of 41- year-old, five-time Olympic swimmer Dara Torres; a report on New England Patriots Pro Bowl wide receiver Randy Moss' new venture as a race team owner in NASCAR's Craftsman Truck Series; the strange story of Lightning Lee Murray, the hottest mixed martial arts fighter in England until he was accused of being the mastermind behind a heist at the Securitas Depot in the London suburb of Tonbridge (the amount stolen was the equivalent of $92 million), and who now sits in solitary confinement in a Moroccan prison but has yet to be formally charged with any crime in connection to the robbery; and a look at the equestrian discipline Eventing, a triathlon for horse and rider that has claimed 14 lives during the last 18 months. Reporters include Tom Farrey, Rachel Nichols, Lisa Salters, Jeremy Schaap and Michael Smith.
The Secret Life of the American Teenager (ABC Family, 8 p.m. ET)
This smart summer show that revolves around a pregnant 15-year-old girl has been bringing ABC Family its highest ratings ever for a scripted series – in fact, it attracted 3.6 million viewers last week alone! What's up with it? JackMyers junior critic and American teenager Maya Motavalli weighs in:
The Secret Life of the American Teenager is a wonderful television series with great actors and plot lines that keep me hooked each week. Juno is a favorite of mine, and I thought no television show could ever top it, but I caught the premiere of Secret Life and loved every minute of it! As a teen about to enter high school, I liked how they showed a real high school, not a stereotypical one seen in most movies and shows. The cheerleader isn't a mean girl, she is actually really nice and has chosen to abstain. There aren't the usual nerds and jocks and popular people. Instead, everyone is just a person, which I love. I also love how the show goes deep into the lives of all its characters. We see Ricky's troubled past and his even worse present. (Ricky is the father of Amy's baby.) We see Adrian's horrible relationship with her mother and why she's such a wild child. (She is the on and off girlfriend to Ricky and Jack.) We see Amy's dad's desires and her mom's worries. No other show I've seen takes you inside everyone's lives and lets you see what it's like to be that person.
Secret Life is also full of really good actors. Shailene Woodley (Amy), Kenny Baumann (Ben), Francia Raisa (Adrian), Daren Kagasaff (Ricky) and Megan Park (Grace) draw me in more and more each week. The plot lines are a little predictable, especially if you watch the previews, but mostly they are still something different that I haven't seen before. By now, Amy's dad has cheated on her mom and has left them. Amy's not sure what she's going to do with her baby. Ben (Amy's boyfriend) wants to marry her and Amy still hasn't told her parents about the baby.
This is a show I'll keep watching all summer until it ends. It's got a message every girl in America needs to hear, and more than that, it's great TV.
Rescue Me Minisode (FX, 10 p.m. ET)
As a fire rages around them, the guys play a game to keep their minds off the painful task at hand. Denis Leary stars.
Tori & Dean: Home Sweet Hollywood (Oxygen, 10 p.m. ET)
Season Finale. Last week's episode of this lightweight reality effort was the highest rated and most-watched Oxygen telecast ever. If you saw it you heard the song So In Love during the final scene. Tonight's season finale will include a music video for that song, in which Tori and Dean pay homage to June Carter and Johnny Cash, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, Sonny and Cher and, in a possible lack of good judgment, Courtney Love and Kurt Cobain.
General Hospital: Night Shift (SOAPnet, 11 p.m. ET)
Patrick is attacked by a French-speaking woman in the ER, Jagger lets Saira evaluate Stone, Epiphany and Toussaint go on their first date, Kyle teaches sex education to a group of senior citizens and Patrick and Robin have bad news for Robert. Kimberly McCullough, Jason Thompson, Antonio Sabato Jr., Billy Dee Williams and Tristan Rogers star.
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 13
Greatest American Dog (CBS, 8 p.m. ET)
A sixth team is expelled from the Canine Academy, but not before the dogs express themselves creatively in a Best in Show painting competition!
Project Runway (Bravo, 9 p.m. ET)
Inspired by the drama series Lipstick Jungle, the designers are challenged to help working women dress for success. Lipstick star Brooke Shields is this week's guest judge.
Brooks & Dunn: Cowboy Town (GAC, 9 p.m. ET)
Premiere. In this special designed to promote their latest CD Cowboy Town, country music superstars Brooks & Dunn and their band cruise through Waxahachie and Dallas, Texas, and deliver a series of impromptu performances for fans on the back of a flatbed truck. Also, cameras document the final rehearsals for their 2008 Cowboy Town tour. Performance highlights include Believe (accompanied by a gospel choir and set in a rural Tennessee church), Brand New Man, Hillbilly Deluxe, Little Miss Honky Tonk, Play Something Country, Tequila and Put a Girl In It.
THURSDAY, AUGUST 14
Blow Down: Vegas Casino (National Geographic Channel, 8 p.m. ET)
Premiere. A demolition team takes down the New Frontier Hotel and Casino, one of the original casino hotels on the Las Vegas Strip. Complicating matters: The structure contains massive amounts of rebar and toxic asbestos. Such demolitions always draw a crowd and become entertainment events in their own right, as you'll see in this show.
High-Tech Fishing: Monster Hauls (National Geographic Channel, 9 p.m. ET)
Premiere. Did you know that the biggest challenge large-scale fishermen face is making sure that their catch gets to your table in as little time as possible? Science plays a huge role in their jobs. Find out about recent advances in commercial fishing technology tonight.
Kathy Griffin: My Life On the D-List (Bravo, 10 p.m. ET)
Season Finale. In the sometimes emotional season finale, Kathy Griffin visits troops at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. She also visits the wives, husbands and families of injured soldiers at Fisher House, a residential complex near the hospital that provides free housing to families that have travelled long distances to visit their loved ones.
Burn Notice (USA Network, 10 p.m. ET)
Michael tries to stop a thief who plans to embezzle from a hip-hop mogul's charity – by convincing the guy to steal an even larger amount! Jeffrey Donovan stars.
FRIDAY, AUGUST 15
The Young & the Restless (CBS, check local listings)
Family Ties veteran Michael Gross joins the cast as Lowell Baldwin, the long-lost father of Michael Baldwin (two-time Emmy winner Christian LeBlanc).
Gone Country (CMT, 8 p.m. ET)
Season Premiere. Sebastian Bach of Skid Row, actress and singer Irene Cara (Fame), American Idol Season 4 finalist Mikalah Gordon, Jermaine Jackson of The Jackson 5, Chris Kirkpatrick of *NSYNC, actor Lorenzo Lamas (Falcon Crest) and actress Sean Young (Blade Runner) head to Nashville to compete in a series of personal and artistic challenges, each one hoping to impress series host and country superstar John Rich and be chosen to record and release a country single. Season 1 of Gone Country was the highest-rated series in CMT history.
Monk (USA Network, 9 p.m. ET)
Monk finds himself trapped on a submarine 500 feet underwater! Could it get any worse for the poor guy? Casper Van Dien and William Atherton are the guest stars.
Outsiders Inn (CMT, 9 p.m. ET)
Series Premiere. Maureen McCormick, Bobby Brown and Carnie Wilson, who bonded during Season 1 of Gone Country, are reunited in this new unscripted series best described as Newhart Meets The Simple Life. The premise: McCormick (who fell in love with Nashville and its environs during the filming of Gone Country) decides to run a bed and breakfast in rural east Tennessee and enlists Brown and Wilson to help her, Brown as entertainment director and Wilson as master chef.
Psych (USA Network, 10 p.m. ET)
The title of this episode says it all: Disco Didn't Die. It Was Murdered! After the biggest bust of Henry's career (from way back in the Seventies) falls apart and the guilty party walks out of jail on a technicality, Shawn and Gus reinvestigate the case and attempt to put the culprit back behind bars. James Roday, Dule Hill and Corbin Bernsen star.