Fox, NBC offer more than reruns

  • By Victor Balta / Herald TV columnist
  • Wednesday, June 30, 2004 9:00pm
  • LifeGo-See-Do

Summer is a time for taking walks outside, basking in the sunlight and generally staying out of the house.

Until now, the major TV networks agreed to give you the time without tempting you to take up that familiar spot in your favorite chair and allowing you to drop in occasionally for a re-run.

But this year, Fox and NBC are looking to rake in some bonus advertising dollars by offering up a few shows they hope will catch your attention.

Give this to Fox: At least they got our attention.

NBC, meanwhile, looks like it found some loose change hidden in the cushions of the behemoth couch that was its glowing centerpiece, “Friends,” and is flipping the coins one a time into the wishing well.

With the exception of “Last Comic Standing” (9 p.m. Tuesdays), which already proved itself a success as part reality show, part just funny people being funny, NBC’s summer lineup presents us with a bunch of retreads.

And let’s not start on “For Love or Money 2,” airing at 9 p.m. Mondays, which tries to outdo itself and every other sweepstakes marriage show on television with rules so complicated you’d think the Florida elections department is running the show.

But Fox gives us some famous, if not particularly entertaining, folks to hang our visors on this summer.

The headliner is “The Simple Life 2,” at 9 p.m. Wednesdays, which again takes us along with America’s favorite socialites as they try to live the middle-American life without benefit of their multi-million-dollar fortunes.

It’s cheap entertainment, for sure, but you can’t beat watching Paris Hilton get thrown from a horse just seconds after asking a real cattle rancher, “How do you make it go faster?”

With episodes that have already shown us family-friendly clips of Hilton and Nicole Richie in the shower together, visiting a nudist resort and mocking an old guy wearing nothing down under but leather chaps, viewers have an idea of what to expect.

What else would one expect from the network whose cable counterparts staunchly advocated the Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act after Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction at the Super Bowl?

Fox’s summer courtroom drama “The Jury” could use some cleaning up, but is easily the best show of the season and promises to keep viewers on the edge of their collective seat.

The hourlong show, which premieres at 9 p.m. Friday, virtually combines reality TV with traditional dramatic script by giving us 12 new jurors to follow in every episode. We sit in the jury room with them as they deliberate a new case each week, and we get glimpses of testimony and the crime itself in flashback form as jurors mention key details.

At the end of each episode, once the decision has been made, the complete scene zips across the screen, showing us whether the jury was right or wrong.

The show – from writer and director Tom Fontana, who brought us “Homicide: Life on the Streets” and HBO’s “Oz” – also brings us a cast of regulars including the judge, attorneys, bailiffs and clerks, who provide amusing subplots. Court bailiff Steve Dixon’s pathetic crush on legal intern Maugerite Cisneros imparts some comic relief in the midst of the tension.

Community service

A reader called on behalf of his 90-year-old mother to ask why “Gomer Pyle, USMC” reruns are nowhere to be found. A spokeswoman for cable channel “TV Land” tells me there are 147 episodes sitting in the TV Land library, but the show has exhausted its most recent agreement and there are no plans to air our favorite Marine anytime soon.

Columnist Victor Balta: 425-339-3455, or vbalta@heraldnet.com.

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