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Wednesday May 31, 2006 6:28 am

Three Shows I’m Looking Forward To This Summer

Yes—it’s only been about a week since the main season finales (I’m not counting the yet-to-air Apprentice finale) and I have to admit that I’m feeling a little off.  With all this time on my hands, I am faced with two major questions in my life:  Is there anything for me to watch this summer… and without TV, do I really have a life? If you are like me and are dreading answering the latter, I have some possible suggestions for you.  While there may not a plethora of offerings to keep my summer filled, I do have a few shows that will keep a few of my nights occupied.  All these shows were things that I discovered last summer, so I’m anxious to see if I can uncover a few more golden nuggets this year:

ENTOURAGE (starts Sunday 6/11 on HBO)
Yes, yes, yes—I was a year behind in finally watching the show.. but what matters is that I discovered it in time.  Why do I love this show?  Simply put:  JEREMY PIVEN, JEREMY PIVEN, JEREMY PIVEN.  But even without the Emmy-nominated star, there is still enough there for me to admire.  I hate to sound like a cliche, but this male ensemble really does help to fill the void where Sex and the City and Friends both left off.  It’s nice to see a group of men just as catty and insecure as a quartet of women. Given the setting (the Hollywood/LA scene), there are plenty of topics—and actors—for the characters to rip on… and they do so in such witty fashion.  Just exactly what a devotee of US Weekly (a.k.a. me) could possibly hope for.

HELL’S KITCHEN (starts Monday 6/12 on FOX)
While Entourage helped to feed the gossipy creature in me, this show appeased two other sides of my personality:  the side that wants to learn (how to cook) and the voyeur who loves to watch (that is—to watch other people being criticized).  For those who miss American Idol mainly because they love to hear Simon Cowell have his say, this could be a nice alternative.  Watching the contestants come up with such original dishes is a real treat.  That creativity coupled with the abrasive tutelage of Chef Gordon Ramsay makes this a breezy hour of TV. It’s delicious fun to hear Ramsay berate his underlings, but it’s also tasty sweet when they finally earn his praise and respect.  I know there are some people who swear by that other cooking show,  Top Chef, but this is the show that does it for me.  Don’t get me wrong, Top Chef is great, but just not as nasty.

SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE? (already airing on FOX)
Of all the shows I’ve mentioned, I’m not sure why I was most surprised by this one.  I’ve always loved watching amazing dancers. And yet despite the success of Dancing With The Stars, I was still somewhat apprehensive.  After having watched numerous seasons of painful auditions on American Idol, I think I had lost interest in that phase of a show.  How many times can you watch people faking it on stage just to get themselves noticed?  Thankfully, I missed those few weeks last season and caught on just when it started getting good.  It’s not the people who are truly horrible dancers that pique my interest, it’s the people who should know how to dance that get me watching.

But what I love most about these dancing shows is that it makes dancing hip.  Not just because it puts dancing in the limelight, but because it shows the youth of today that ballroom dancing—or any style for that matter - can be done to any type of music.  It’s like colorizing movie classics (not something I particularly endorse).  Sometimes it takes putting a new spin on an old standard for people to pay attention to its content.  What I particularly like about So You Think You Can Dance is that it can reveal a dancer’s true colors.  Yes, they may be great at hip hop—but can they do a cha cha?  Are they just an instinctive dancer.. or can they actually take instruction?  Do they need to be solo in the spotlight or can they deal with being partnered up?  In other words—if you’d like the opportunity to see a cocky dancer be brought back down to your Running Man world, this is the show for you.

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Entourage is A+ (last season got a little slow in the middle but ended solid) and Hell’s Kitchen is a great summer filler.  I can’t stand the dancing shows, sorry :(

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