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Reality-TV Index

A recurring guide to which shows are worth investing in and which ones to avoid.

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I Pity the Fool

TV Land, Wednesdays, 10 p.m.

THE PREMISE
Mr. T fixes broken group dynamics with the potent combination of bluster, psychobabble, and a two-decades-old mohawk.

SHOULD YOU BOTHER WATCHING
Yes, fool! Mr. T is totally endearing, whether presiding over a tense father-son driving lesson or barking directly at the audience in rhymed couplets. The situations are contrived, but if that means we get to see T bust a move at a kids’ dance recital, well, then everyone’s a winner.


Top Chef

Bravo, Wednesdays, 10 p.m.

THE PREMISE
It’s Project Runway—with spatulas!

SHOULD YOU BOTHER WATCHING
Yes, if you like constant conflict. (And if you watch reality shows, you do.) Cringe as Otto inadvertently steals lychees! Marvel as Marcel and his Heat Miser hair harass beleaguered Betty! Drool at the cheesecake (host Padma Lakshmi, a welcome upgrade over Katie Lee Joel)!


1 vs. 100

NBC, Fridays, 8 p.m.

THE PREMISE
NBC’s aging-comic welfare program enlists Bob Saget to host a trivia contest in which one contestant matches wits with 100 different foes.

SHOULD YOU BOTHER WATCHING
Depends on how much patience you have for slow-paced, super-easy, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire-esque quiz shows. But it’s perfect for putting on in the background while you’re doing something engrossing: painting your nails, filing your taxes, performing minor surgery.


Breaking Bonaduce

VH1, Sundays, 1 p.m.

THE PREMISE
Former Partridge Danny Bonaduce returns for another round of trying to (a) salvage his marriage and (b) stay off the sauce.

SHOULD YOU BOTHER WATCHING
No. As with season one, you’ll want to like the Dooch, but his narcissism overwhelms any vestigial charms. And his inability to manage relationships with other human beings is exhausting, not entertaining. Bottom line: He doesn’t need the attention, and you don’t have the time.


Survivor

CBS, Thursdays, 8 p.m.

THE PREMISE
Blah blah castaways, blah blah $1 million—but wait! This time, the show’s got four segregated tribes (white, black, Asian, Latino).

SHOULD YOU BOTHER WATCHING
Surprisingly, yes—and not for the racial gimmick, which was abandoned in episode three. (The four tribes are now melded into two.) But in filling the racially based slots, the show cast a wider net than usual, thus avoiding the typical glut of scheming “students of the game.”


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