Stay Tuned

By Margaret Lyons


Just like The L Word sort of tries to be Sex and the City, but gayer, Dead Like Me tries to be Six Feet Under, but deader. A bunch of dead characters hang out as if they’re alive, but they’re not—as we’ve noted, they are dead. The second season hasn’t hit the airwaves yet, but it’s in the works, so catch up now with the season one reruns. Tonight’s episode is only the second in the series, so you can still expect a lot of explanations of all the characters and why they’re all dead, and why Mandy Patinkin is there. George is a cute but angsty blonde teen who was killed by a toilet seat that fell from the MIR space station, and now she has to, like, go around and learn lessons? About life? But she’s dead? Oh, it’s all very high concept here on Showtime.

Showtime, 9 p.m.


Australia? Cute. Bandicoots, gorillas, giraffes, and other exotic creatures? Cute. Baby animals at an Australian zoo? Well, that’s the kind of cute you feel right in the ovaries. Animal Planet takes us inside Australia’s Taronga Zoo to follow some new members of the zoo family around for a year. They interview zookeepers, too, but mostly because that baby bandicoot is just too shy in front of the cameras. If that’s too much smush-and-mush for you, you can always flip over to American Chopper.

Animal Planet for Zoo Babies, Discovery Channel for Chopper, both at 2 p.m.


Is Moira Kelly on crack? I think yes. She was really rolling there, from The Cutting Edge to The Lion King, right up through West Wing. Which she abruptly left after one season. And now she’s back on TV in one of the crappier teen dramas—and that’s a distinction, believe me—on the WB, One Tree Hill. My problems with the show include but are not limited to: the girls having stripper names (Brooke, Peyton, Nikki) while the boys have Little House on the Prairie names (Lucas, Nathan), the generic, grizzled basketball coach (snooze), and the fact that Kelly plays a mom. I mean, cool that she’s on a show and all, but we all know that once you play hag you never go back. Sorry, Moira.

WB, 4 p.m.


Tonight marks the not-very-triumphant return of The Restaurant, the show that made you think twice about cruddy but expensive Italian food. Rocco “Serious Mommy Issues” DiSpirito is still serving up B-quality chow, and now investors want to know why the restaurant isn’t making any money—Jeffrey Chodorow, Mr. Lawsuitpants, claims the restaurant lost over $600,000. I’m tempted to say “that’s a lotta meatballs!”—but I’ll refrain. Long story short, The Restaurant marks the return of flighty summer TV: light on substance, high on drama, goes great with Slurpees.

NBC, 9 p.m.


When ER started, it was one of the most innovative and creative shows on television. The swirling cameras, the blood and guts, the fast-paced dialogue, and the single-serving characters helped put the show—and its stars—on the map. Also, it helped reinvigorate Courier typeface, but that’s neither here nor there. Nowadays, ER just goes out of its way to be either too sad to watch or based on characters I don’t give a shit about. Relive the glory days this morning with the pilot episode, a two-hour blast from the past that will remind you what an ensemble drama looks like when it’s done right. It’s not-yet-a-doctor Carter’s first day in the ER, Dr. Greene is thinking about joining a private practice, Dr. Ross shows up frat-party shitfaced, and something seems not quite right with Nurse Hathaway.

TNT, 9 a.m.


Look, I’m not going to make a joke about abused or neglected children, but whoever was in charge of the title Wild Child: The Story of Feral Children should probably, like, go to hell or something for that. The hour-long documentary profiles children who developed without human contact—a four-year-old literally raised by dogs, a 13-year-old whose abusive parents never spoke to her—and the role they can play in scientists’ understanding human development and language acquisition. Um, Nell wasn’t a particularly good movie, but maybe this will be a little better.

Discovery Channel, 7 p.m.


I used to hate on Law & Order: SVU. I’m not going to lie. But now that it’s on a bajillion times a day, I’ve had a chance to reevaluate my initial reviews, and I have to say: SVU will rock your fucking socks off, faster then you can say “in the criminal justice system.” SVU brings all the fun of regular Law & Order, but with Ice-T making all the saucy quips instead of Jerry Orbach. Christopher Meloni stands out as the brooding Detective Stabler, but it’s hard not to think of him as the cook in Wet Hot American Summer. On tonight’s episode, Eric Stolz—who I guess strictly plays molesty-types these days (Once & Again, The Butterfly Effect, much?)—is a priest being investigated by the squad for murdering a transsexual. In the church. They’re not kidding about it being ripped from the headlines.

USA, 7 p.m.