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Published by the Corpus Christi Caller-Times. CLICK FOR NEWSPAPER DELIVERY
Sunday, August 19, 2001

More reality TV scheduled for fall lineup

There will be plenty to keep viewers busy through the end of the year

Q: What's scarier: the spooky storyline of FOX's "Murder in Small Town X," the gross-out acts in NBC's "Fear Factor," or the lackluster moments that pass for drama on CBS's "Big Brother 2"?
   A: None of the above - the sheer volume of reality TV on this fall's schedule beats them all in downright scare-factor.
   You didn't think it would die down, did you? Especially when the networks were fearing a strike earlier this year, they loaded up on the material they knew would work if those pesky writers and actors were asking too much money: unscripted TV.
   Here's a preview of network TV's unscripted offerings. Some shows, such as the highly anticipated ABC show "The Runner," will premiere in January and aren't included here, but there's plenty to keep you busy until then.
   "Elimidate Deluxe" (7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 4 on The WB) It's a hybrid of "Blind Date" and "Chains of Love." The half-hour series takes one contestant and matches him/her with four suitors on a group date - usually in an exotic locale. Three of the dates are ditched during the episode, which spans one date, leaving the lovely couple to decide if they want to hang together.
   "Lost" (7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 5 on NBC) In "Lost," three teams of two people each are dropped at a foreign locale with only essential articles of clothing, toiletries, $100 cash and two days worth of food. The first team to make its way to the Statue of Liberty wins.
   "Lost in the USA" (6 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 30 on The WB) Each week, four teams will run a manic, 48-hour gantlet of tests, tasks and time trials that take them all over the United States. It's from the creators of "The Real World," and some of the challenges are similar to those being performed on other shows. Think bungee jumping.
   "Love Cruise" (8 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 11 on FOX) Eight men and eight women will hook up while sailing the seas in what is sure to become a FOX signature hit, "Love Cruise." The singles connect and compete against each other in challenges, and every 48 hours (at the end of each episode), the men vote off a woman and vice versa, and the remaining sailors switch partners. When the ship gets to Aruba, a jury of all the losers picks the winning couple from the last two couples.
   "Popstars 2" (7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 4 on The WB) The first season of "Popstars" brought Eden's Crush, a girl group that just played in Corpus Christi opening for Jessica Simpson. This new incarnation will create a pop group composed of both girls and guys - a first, since ABC's now-dead series "Making the Band" formed O-Town, a third-tier boy band.
   "Survivor: Africa" (Thursday, Oct. 11 on CBS) We're familiar with it by now. It's the most successful reality show of this format, and while the second edition's ratings weren't as impressive as the first time around, they still amazingly put CBS on top on Thursday nights. This year's African setting will likely emphasize the wildlife (zebras and elephants) and the massive, nearby Serengeti. Host Jeff Probst will return.
   "Temptation Island 2" (8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 31 on FOX) The surprise ratings-hit is returning, and sadly, so is Master of Smarm, host Mark Walberg. FOX hasn't released the location, but it will surely be exotic and conducive to this unique, voyeuristic modern-day fidelity test. The only major change this year: FOX will check backgrounds more extensively, because of an incident last year in which couple didn't admit they were raising a child together.
   "The Amazing Race" (8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 5 on CBS) When the 11 teams of two people are dropped off at an unspecified location, they're told the location of the finish line and some last-minute instructions. The show deserves compliments for showing better diversity in casting than any other show on TV; the teams include a recently separated couple, a mother and daughter, a gay couple and a couple of best friends of all racial backgrounds.
   "The Mole II: The Next Betrayal" (7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 21 on ABC) Anderson Cooper is back this season with 14 new contestants set to find out which one of them is the double agent. The major changes this season: viewers will get to see all the multiple-choice questions posed to the contestants at the end of each episode. Plus, Kathryn Price, last season's mole saboteur, is a writer/consultant this go around.
   Highlights from this week include:
   12 p.m. on ABC: THE X GAMES The annual event, in Philadelphia this year, will be getting plenty of coverage this week. Look for more of the X Games on ESPN and ESPN2 through Thursday night.
   7 p.m. on CBS: TIN CUP To impress the girlfriend (Rene Russo) of an old rival (Don Johnson), a washed-up golf pro (Kevin Costner) returns to competition. Cheech Marin also stars in this 1996 movie.
   7 p.m. on E!: GROWING PAINS: THE TRUE HOLLYWOOD STORY "Family Week" starts with this look at the 1985-92 sitcom that is still going strong in reruns. Behind the scenes, life for the cast was considerably "more complicated, dramatic and dysfunctional" than what viewers saw.
   9:30 p.m. on Comedy Central: LET'S BOWL In a spoof of current TV trends, "ordinary people" with a score to settle compete against each other for "semi-valuable" prizes.
   7 p.m. on Fox: TEEN CHOICE AWARDS The most popular celebrities as chosen by teens will be honored, including an "extraordinary achievement award" to Sarah Michelle Gellar. Scheduled performers include Nick and Aaron Carter and Usher.
   8 p.m. on Lifetime: WITHIN THESE WALLS The life of a hardened convict (Ellyn Burstyn) is changed by a nun (Laura Dern) who involves her in training young dogs to assist the disabled. This new made-for-cable movie is based on a true story.
   8 p.m. on CBS: MISS TEEN USA PAGEANT Young women from all 50 states and Washington, D.C., compete at South Padre Island in the 19th annual event. Teen singer Mandy Moore will be among the performers, and last year's winner, Jillian Parry, will be on hand to pass the crown to her successor.
   7 p.m. on CBS: BREAKING THE NEWS Top television news people, including Walter Cronkite, Ed Bradley and Christiane Amanpour, recall their feelings as they covered events of recent decades. This special is from the Museum of Television & Radio.
   7 p.m. on TV Land: FREE TO BE YOU AND ME Marlo Thomas created this landmark 1974 special for children that was preceded by a record album and a book. Thomas and performing friends such as Alan Alda, Mel Brooks and Roberta Flack offer "encouraging messages about self-awareness and acceptance."

Pop culture and media critic Ricardo Baca can be reached at 886-3688 or by e-mail at

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