Season Premiere: Vampire geeks, ready the red wine and black Snuggies! Season 2 of Alan Ball’s sexy-Cajun-vamps series True Blood doesn’t necessarily follow Book 2 of Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse source series, but there’s little room to complain: When you’re the only vampire show on TV, you get to make your own rules. The new season picks up exactly where the previous left off (as True Blood episodes tend to do) with the introduction of the hilariously happy-culty Fellowship of the Sun anti-vampire church, and Sookie’s consternation over fanged flame Bill’s inadvertent new teen protégé Jessica plays out even better/darker than it did on paper. Along with Big Love, True Blood is looking more and more like the answer to post-Sopranos/Six Feet Under life for HBO. Now if they could only make it through the off-seasons without craptastic filler like In Treatment and The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, huh?
Season Finale: Or is that series finale? Former Playboy Playmate/Girls Next Door co-star/Hef splash mat Bridget Marquardt may have run out of sexy beaches after 15 episodes, if not concrete proof that Kendra Wilkinson (now headlining her own idiotic series on E!) really wasn’t the dumbest blonde in the Mansion. Everywhere from Croatia to SoCal has been covered (or uncovered); what’s left after tonight’s Mexico/Morocco double-header? Does the math even matter to a D-cup dimwit who can only count to 22 in a cold room? No. The Only TV Column That Matters™ predicts a second season for Bridget’s Sexiest Beaches—next stop, the Great Salt Lake!
Series Debut: Oh, wipe that look off your face—you knew an MC Hammer reality show was coming. The only real surprise is how long it’s taken; after Hammer’s appearance on the first season of The Surreal Life in 2003, who would have thought Gene Simmons and Coreys Haim and Feldman would get their own A&E (which now stands for “Anything & Everything”) series before him? Hammertime follows the Fallen Star Formula to a T: Doomed quest to regain fame, colorful family supportive of said doomed quest, goofy callbacks to said previous fame, underlying “message” that it’s OK to be an anonymous suburban family man (as long as there are cameras around), etc. Don’t touch this.
Series Debut: Too bad Showtime already blew the doors off the Driven-Compassionate RN oeuvre with Nurse Jackie last week—even if Hawthorne had a star with a fraction of Edie Falco’s talent and charisma, the series would still pale in comparison. Since Hawthorne’s lead is Jada Pinkett Smith … yeah, forget it. I may take back everything I’ve said about TNT’s Raising the Bar.
New Series: Like an unholy, forcible three-way with Tim & Eric and Rachael Ray, IFC’s new Food Party practically screams We’re weird! We’re cheap! We’re on earlier than Adult Swim, stoners! Hostess Thu Tran presides over a cooking show in a cardboard kitchen, aided by puppets and her deep, deep love of herself—so really, it’s not all that different from The Rachael Ray Show. Equally (but less self-consciously) bizarre is British import Modern Toss, an animated/live-action sketch show that could exist solely on the cartoon character “Mr. Tourette: Master Sign Writer.” Remember, there’s no censorship on IFC.
Series Finale: Hey, I liked it … I know, I’m the only one …