North Shore
To borrow a line from that glorious — and Tony-minted! — musical Avenue Q, there's a fine, fine line between an addictive prime-time soap and a waste of your time. I don't think I can improve on our esteemed Matt Roush's evisceration of this series, but I will say that Brooke Burns rivals Captain Oats — aka Seth Cohen's plastic horsey — for the title of Least Expressive Performer on Television. Speaking of The O.C., why are they pretending that Newport Beach refugee Amanda Righetti is playing a character other than Hailey? She may suffer from rage blackouts now and is apparently involved in vaguely illegal activities with a Baldwinesque beach bum, but c'mon that's still everyone's favorite slutty younger sis up there onscreen. Besides, just think of all the crossover opportunities if Hailey actually had hightailed it off to Hawaii. Peter Gallagher could show up to give James Remar his patented "Your Eyebrows Are the Window to Your Soul" lecture, Mischa Barton could try and fail to out-act the hotel swimming pool and Benjamin McKenzie could punch out that annoying bartender who's always meddling in everyone else's relationships. The dude has it coming...

The Casino
Anyone else catch the erectile-dysfunction joke that Mark "Who's Fired?" Burnett slipped into tonight's episode? Right after big galoot Chris guilt-trips his wife, Maya, into leaving the swingers party before things get interesting (re: before she starts making out with the lead swinger's girlfriend), the camera cuts to those impressive Bellagio fountains going strong. Then the floodlights go out and the fountains instantly stop pumping out water. Somewhere, Bob Dole and Mike Ditka are popping their nightly pills and laughing hysterically. You could tell Chris was all eager to make it up to his disappointed bride, because at dinner the next night he kept blathering on and on about how the swingers are missing out on love by livin' la vida three-way. "I want to toast one very important thing, our marriage," the flustered dork finally spits out before going in for a quick kiss. Notice though, that Maya's eyes are totally closed after Chris pulls back. Any bets on who she's really thinking about?

Scream Play
What Fear Factor might look like if the producers were forced to make the show on $50 a day. When the first challenge is rooting around in a dumpster for rubber body parts, you know budget is a major issue. Or maybe the producer just really needed his dumpster cleaned out? I'm also not quite sure how eating lots of chiles is a movie-related stunt, unless there was a big-screen version of Dog Eat Dog that I thankfully missed out on. At least the final challenge — where the players have to walk along a narrow ledge several stories up — is recognizably based on a flick, the 2002 Matt Damon snoozefest, The Bourne Identity. This show would work better with more entertaining contestants, but since the grand prize is only $10,000 I'm guessing the application pool is limited to Fear Factor rejects and movie-theater ushers.

Who Wants to Marry My Dad?
Apparently this is the only reality dating show where it's okay for a 39-year-old woman to admit she's actually 39. In fact, I think some of these women are claiming to be older than they really are, which is a unique reality-TV experience. I can't believe that the producers would let the daughters of the titular dad vote out the woman who freely bashed their competition. "I watch The Bachelor, but it just didn't have the class that this [show] has," the rejected Debbie managed to say with a straight face (or perhaps her features were weighed down by the pound-and-a-half of makeup she was wearing). My other favorite quote of the night came when the bachelor dad had some alone time with his final potential bride. "You know what they say about last things, right?" he asked suavely, after she confessed that she was worried about having to follow all the other women. His intended looked thoroughly confused by this non sequitur but quickly recovered, flashed a million-dollar smile and replied, "Absolutely." Now that's the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

King Arthur Commercial
To Mr. Gerald Bruckheimer, Esq.
1 Armageddon Way
Flashdance Suite
The Caribbean

It hath come to my attention that thou art appropriating mine name and visage for a new cinematic tale to be released in the coming month. Let it be known throughout the land, knave, that I in no way endorse your interpretation of Arthur's exploits. And, indeed, were I and my Knights not part of this cursed realm known as the "public domain," rest assured I would bring the full wrath of Excalibur (and Camelot's lawyers) upon your house. Thou stories doth inspire the greatest loathing in mine heart, particularly the tale of the loathsome marsupial who steals large sums of monies and taunts his pursuers in rhyming verse. May this creature catch the pox and die a slow, horrible death. Yet I am not an unreasonable man. Mayhap we arrive at a settlement where thou furnish me with the Lady Knightley's phone number? Guinevere has taken to locking me out of our room of late. I await thy swift response.

Yours sincerely,

Arthur Pendragon

— Rochell Thomas has the night off. Today's column was written by Ethan Alter.