- LENO RETURNS: Sept. 14.
10 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 12
Unless you were a muscle-headed jock back in junior high and high school, chances are that you've experienced bullying in some form or another. As someone who has experienced that special brand of torment, I — like a lot of you out there — have found myself entertaining that most common of fantasies, namely: Man, how I wish I could get a trained, mixed-martial-arts fighter to open up a can of whoop-ass on that guy. Well, friends, now you can! In this reality show from MTV, bully victims write in, asking that the bully from their past be given the business at the hands of a trained fighter. On the line: $10,000. The catch is, the bully has to earn it in the ring, which contains a guy who looks like he could kill you just by looking at you. In the first two-minute submission round, every time a bully “taps out” — that is, gives in due to the pain of a punishing grapple hold — he loses $1,000, which goes to the victim. In the second two-minute round, if the bully gets knocked out or the ref has to stop the fight due to the heinousness of the ass kicking, the bully loses another $5,000 to the victim. Yeah, it's bloodthirsty, it's crude and it's probably morally suspect, but on behalf of all the nerds in the world, I'm giving it a big thumbs up.
THE JAY LENO SHOW
9 p.m. Monday, Sept. 14
There is a special place in hell for Jay Leno. That's what I suspect newly-minted talk show host Conan O'Brien is thinking at this moment, anyway. O'Brien took over from Leno back in June as host of NBC's venerable “Tonight Show,” which has long been Goodnight Martha viewing for middle America. One would expect that NBC brass would have given O'Brien the same honeymoon time to blossom and gain momentum that they did for Leno when he took over the show from the wildly popular Johnny Carson back in the day. Instead, they threw ol' Conan under the late night bus by offering Leno a primetime weeknight show that airs just prior to O'Brien in most markets. Just wondering: If Leno wanted to do a nightly TV talk show, why did he quit “The Tonight Show” again? That's a riddle for the ages. As somebody who has always liked O'Brien's brand of irreverent, self-referential humor (and loathed Leno's cornball, yuk-yuk brand of the same), it's hard to fathom why NBC might have decided to screw Conan over this way. Imagine, for instance, if Johnny Carson had announced his retirement from “The Tonight Show,” then came out the following week with the news that he was gearing up to field the “Not Quite Tonight Show”: We suspect that Leno would have been toast. Sadly, we don't expect a better fate for Conan. Anyway, “The Jay Leno Show” debuts on Monday, Sept. 14, with comedian Jerry Seinfeld, rappers Jay-Z and Kanye West and singer Rhianna. Somewhere, Conan O'Brien's tears stain the label on a bottle of bourbon.
THE REAL HOUSEWIVES OF ATLANTA
6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 10
I'm going to blame my secret love of Bravo's “Real Housewives” franchise on my wife, who started watching “The Real Housewives of Orange County” back when it first premiered. Since then, she has managed to get me addicted, through no fault of my own, to the entire “Real Housewives” smorgasbord, including “RH of Orange County,” “RH of New Jersey,” and now “The Real Housewives of Atlanta.” While the ladies from “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” are more Southern-fried than their Jersey and Cali counterparts, they're no less full of gossipy goodness. For one thing, unlike their NJ and CA sisters, the ATL version of the show is almost exclusively black, focusing on a bevy of well-to-do African-American women making it work for them in Hotlanta (OK, there's one white chick — a blonde bimbo type who we wholly suspect the producers shoehorned into the mix just for the sake of diversity). Yeah, it's trashy, and dumb, and lives down to all the horrific, voyeuristic tendencies of our Reality Show age. But it's also a really good time, not to mention a peek into the lives of upper class black women in the South, a demographic that doesn't get a lot of play in popular culture. Check it out.