Rescue Me
"Turns out some of yas are just broken-down drunks on the verge of a complete and total mental collapse," says the cop to Tommy after ticketing his truck for the umpteenth time. Well... yeah. Your point being? Then Tommy says if he's ever seen on the Staten Island ferry, shoot him in the head. (Y'know, I used to take the ferry now and then just to enjoy a boat ride. I kinda liked it, so please hold your fire if you ever see me doing it again.) But Tommy's parting line about what the guys trying to sign him up for the barbershop quartet could do with each other after he left provided me with my first laugh-out-loud moment of the evening. Anyway, you think anyone's gonna clue Mike in to the fact that shrieking how you can get any goddamn girl you want in a high-pitched voice might not be the best way to take being dumped? Not a whole lotta pride in that, friend. Nor is calling her up to make fun of her weight (which was the nicest thing he had to say). Speaking of pride, though, Laura's "horrific, bloody train wreck of a relationship" speech to shoot Franco down was one of the most artfully devastating cold-water-in-the-lap moves I've seen in some time. Too bad I don't think she'll hold out over the long haul.

But being a typical coast-dwelling knucklehead, I didn't even know there was a London, Ohio. (You'd be stunned at the volume of things I don't know.) But Tommy's able to make poor Carmine the Pete Best of the singing group within a few minutes. Then, of course, being Tommy, he immediately lets them down by taking off to find his family and get his ass kicked. (Not that I blame him, of course.) Nor does it take Janet long to realize he's the same liar he's always been — and he is — and take off. (Not that I blame her, of course.) All works out for the best in the end, though... provided best includes telling the wrong guy's wife he's got an illegitimate child (that the right guy didn't even have), a shattered windshield, Jan and the kids hitting the highway once again as Tommy sleeps through his chance to see them again, Mike pining away for the woman he cursed and insulted and... you get the picture. But, hey — they won the barbershop trophy! — Michael Peck

I Want to Be a Hilton Before I begin, can I just say how much this show's cheesy theme song about "high society life" makes me want to stick sharp objects in my eardrums? OK, with that out of my system, I can get to the business at hand: discussing how much Team Madison sucks. Then again, if Madison losing means we get to hear more from Latricia, and enjoy her perfect eye rolls, I'm all for it. It's really quite natural that she thought the Hamptons were friends of Kathy's — why should the rest of the world be concerned with the playground of the rich and famous? But Team Park's Jaret had the best country-bumpkin line of the night when he called polo a "high-class rodeo." As much as I already hate Park's bossy bartender Valerie and pity lame Paris look-alike Niki, Madison is by far the team that's most fun to watch fail. It was pretty difficult to pinpoint who/what made them so bad tonight: Yvette and her 3 lbs. of makeup squeezing into and devaluing Paris' Sweet 16 dress at the charity auction, Jabe getting trigger happy with the pricing, Johnny selling the $3000 watch for $900, Jackaay wasting my time with that extra silent "a" in her name or Anne turning the auction into her own personal pep rally. These people really made Paris and Nicky seem like exemplary citizens — I think when they're in the presence of Mama, they behave quite well. And I really liked how the Hilton women all posed for the camera while trying to convince Latricia to come out to the nightclub with the rest of the group. In the end, the blame was placed on Johnny and Yvette's failed alliance, making for a hilarious scene in the boardroom — er, "residence." Latricia called out the English eyeliner queen for lying, and then exposed how jealous Yvette was of Johnny's flirtations with the Hampton girls. She got all flustered in front of Kathy, while Johnny just did a little mock blush and head tilt that said, "Sorry I'm such a stud; I can't help it." Again, I'd have excluded Anne from my list right away, but it seems like Kathy's not interested in adopting another kid with commitment problems. See ya, Johnny. — Sabrina Rojas Weiss

Empire
Hail Caesar? Eh, why the hail not? It's new, it's lavish, it's like a soap opera in sandals. And it's not reality! Plus, I'm sure there's some sort of educational lesson among all the cheesy dialogue and chariots, right? Granted, my grip on Roman history is about as weak as some of the cast's accents, but I got sucked into the tale of Julius Caesar naming his wimpy nephew Octavius as heir to the throne seconds after the Brutus crew's whole "et tu" ambush. Who knew Senators were so sleazy? Kidding. Anyway, ABC has obviously sunk serious bucks into this short-run series, so it make sense to play fast and loose with the facts. And while I totally get the idea of sending young Octavius on the run with a hunky Obi-Wan-ish gladiator ordered to keep him safe — and a Vestal virgin ordained to keep him sexed-up — the last thing we need is for this to turn into some sort of "On the Road to the Ruins" buddy adventure. Let's just get the kid trained and sent back home to kick ass and take the name of Caesar for himself, pronto. Otherwise, that angry mob making a mess of Rome and torching their fallen king's corpse is gonna be in major trouble once Cassius and his fellow baddies of the empire strike back. Sorry, I had to.— Damian J. Holbrook

Average Joe: The Joes Strike Back(An Above-Average Jane's View)Anna, the 26-year-old "entrepreneur and model" about to be fed to a pack of desperate Joes, says she's been taking night classes for the past few years and hasn't watched much reality TV. If we were all so blissfully ignorant, maybe we too could be hopeless romantics like her. The doe-eyed redhead gets tears in her eyes at the sight of her bedroom! And honey, I don't know about your immigrant parents, but mine would not be "so proud of me" for resorting to dating 18-plus men on national TV.

So let's talk about the Joes, who kinda leave me longing for Beauty and the Geek's humble male subjects. These guys think they're God's gift. Let us review a few of their many assets: Aaron says he's often compared to Ben Affleck and JFK Jr.; Art's a karaoke champ; Igor's got a tattoo of his own name on his arm; Damian wonders why bragging about his Mensa status doesn't get him dates; Joshua's got that Jesus look down; Harold "Solid" Gold is unemployed thanks to this show; and don't get me started on creepy magician Nick. But I think I would actually enjoy the company of crazy, leotard-wearing Dante, tough-guy cat lover Chuck or cute, shy Josh. Not that I'd find any of them boyfriend material; I'm shallow like that. Don't know what criteria the three guys from Average Joe 2 were using to eliminate four candidates, but the fact that it involved not one but two dodgeball contests made me wary of the day when those jocks show up in matching red sports cars.

Through her whole ordeal, Anna remained so sweet and hopeful. She hardly muttered a disparaging word as the Joes got off the bus. Even when it was just her, the producers and the "hidden" camera, she was optimistic. Is she for real? As for the weird coda about Nick's extreme makeover, am I the only one who couldn't tell the difference, except for his lack of maniacal eyebrows? — SRW

(An Average Joe's View)
Best. Season. Ever. Of course, I tend to say that after the premiere of each returning reality show, only to end up more disappointed than a hot bachelorette staring at a bus filled with sweaty, horny schlubs who think they actually have a chance with her. But based on Tuesday's episode, I really do believe that the fourth season of this summertime guilty pleasure will live up (or live down) to the promise of its oh-so-diabolical premise.

One big reason is that this year's object of nerd desire is the cutest female star on the series yet: a stunning redhead named Anna — picture a younger, softer-featured, less evil Marcia Cross — described with a wonderful lack of irony by the narrator as "a model and an entrepreneur who also has a business degree." (Stop, stop, you had me at "model.") Better yet, she claims to have never seen a reality show, which is in stark contrast to the producers, who've apparently seen every reality show and have dutifully created a pastiche of almost all of them.

Just in this first episode alone, we were treated to such staples of the genre as desperate guys vying for love, physical challenges, jokes played on the contestants, mock-solemn elimination ceremonies and, in this season's big twist, an extreme makeover. That's right, this time rejected Joes will get reconstructed (kind of like the Six Million Dollar Man or the South in 1865) by a team of experts that include a hairstylist, a dentist, a cosmetic surgeon and even a life coach — but not, alas, an actual miracle worker.

But the secret ingredient that's really made the Average Joe series so fun to watch is humiliation. That's what's missing from Beauty and the Geek, which is actually trying to teach its cast (and viewers) some kind of lesson about superficiality, acceptance and, yawn, mutual respect. There was no such pretension on Joe this week — just plenty of clueless guys hilariously trying, and failing, to impress a woman who's so out of their league, she's not even playing the same sport. In fact, my only regret about this premiere was that Anna cut Matt, the online developer. For some reason, I was rooting for him. Can't imagine why. — Daniel Manu

Blow Out
So, now that we've spent a few weeks at Jonathan's salons, it's time to address the troops. After all, might as well use that Delaware County Community College retail-management degree I slept my way to (kidding) before Journalism school, right?
Edward — Bro, I understand a class under Jonboy's eagle eye is rough, but crying? Unless you were weeping over the fact that your hair grew about six inches between the afternoon scenes and that night's class, you really need to pull it together.
Kim — Bangin' job at the photo shoot. Even if the bossman was just throwing a bone for shafting you on the New York Fashion Week trip, I hope this stops the "I'm gonna quit" chatter. Besides, frown lines are hell and I don't want you getting House of Wax-faced at crazy Daniel's next Botox soiree.
Assistant Scott — We get it. You're gay. Move on.
Design VP Scott — We get it. You're an ass. Move on and bring in more than two bottle samples for the new product line. What are you, AmWay? Oh, and you're lucky Jonathan only elbow-checked the salon's back door. Pull that 'tude with me, you'd be urinating creme rinse for a week.
Stripper Bobby — Why do you look so familiar? Kiara — Your baby is perfection. So's your way with extensions. The TV Guide Channel's Kimberly Caldwell never looked better.
Alyn — Only a genius could turn that haggard chick into a hotter Camilla Parker Bowles. Do you guys have a payment plan? Because I would totally love to have you fix my cowlicks when I come out there in July. And finally...
Jonathan Fire your therapist and for God's sake, do whatever it takes to keep Jason in L.A. fulltime. Aside from Sescie, he is the best thing that ever happen to you. Oh, and your Dirt paste? Best thing that ever happened to me. Just try not to cry, OK? We don't want to get Edward started. — DJH

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