Alone among the desperate networks, the WB has kept its "reality" quotient to a minimum this season. That's interesting and surprising, considering the genre's reported appeal to the WB's youthful demographic. With the garish (and often deliciously cheesy) exception of "The Surreal Life," the WB has earned its audience the old-fashioned way, with earnest and angst-ridden dramas, including the thoughtful newcomer "Everwood."
The WB deviates from that pattern today with the debut of the six-episode sports reality series "Boarding House: North Shore" (7 p.m., WB). Unlike the contrived casting of "The Real World" and its many clones, "House" features seven photogenic participants in a surfing world tour as they compete in the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing on Hawaii's North Shore beaches.
The boarders include Sunny Garcia, former world champion and five-time Triple Crown winner; last year's Triple Crown winner, Myles Padaca; rising star Danny Fuller; Australian female surfer Chelsea Georgeson; Roxy Sportswear icon Veronica Kay; and Holly Beck, named the top female extreme athlete by the Teen Choice Awards. And let's not forget Damien Hobgood. He's a good surfer, but he's also a virgin, and not afraid to talk about his celibate status. I guess every reality show needs a talkative virgin these days.
Speaking of "Real World" rip-offs, tonight, Fox launches "Paradise Hotel" (8 p.m.). Eleven guests at a posh resort try to stay there as long as they can. One contestant will be voted off every week. Rejects will then be replaced by members of a studio audience. It sounds like this nightmare could go on forever.
Tonight's other highlights
Debbie Allen and Joey Fatone are hosts of a two-hour edition of "Fame" (7 p.m., NBC).
Scheduled on "60 Minutes II" (8 p.m., CBS): shaking up the airline business; a Los Angeles-based TV station foments dissent in Iran.
Scheduled on "48 Hours Investigates" (9 p.m., CBS): a kidnapping victim explains how her will to survive kept her alive.
Choreographer Lars Lubovitch collaborates with composer Elliot Goldenthal ("Frida") to turn "Othello" into modern dance on "Great Performances" (8:30 p.m., PBS).
Scheduled on "The System" (9 p.m., Court), the search for the killer of a witness scheduled to testify against a drug dealer.
Johnny Depp, Christine Todd Whitman and B.B. King appear on "Late Show with David Letterman" (10:35 p.m., CBS) ... Jay Leno welcomes Teenage Wasteland, Bernie Mac and Dwight Yoakam on "The Tonight Show" (10:35 p.m., NBC).