The year's most anticipated sequel hits the screens tonight. No, we're not talking about another summer-movie "three-quel." It's finally time for "High School Musical 2" (7 p.m., Disney).
The original film took many by surprise. Released like any other Disney Friday-night movie, it became a TV smash and a pop culture phenomenon among teens, 'tweens and their parents, who were asked to purchase the resulting avalanche of "HSM" merchandise.
The musical score to "HSM" became the best-selling CD of 2006.
Whether that fact reflects true musical genius or offers a sad commentary on the state of the music industry is for others to decide.
To my enduring relief, I have not received a review copy of "High School Musical 2." There's little to gain from criticizing a musical made for 11-year-olds. Besides, it is arguably the most review-proof offering of the television year. Suffice it to say, the gang is off from school for summer and there is a scramble for summer jobs - including that of lifeguard - and a scramble for romance. Just add singin' and dancin' and product placements.
"High School Musical 2" reunites the team behind the first, including director and choreographer Kenny Ortega. The soundtrack is already for sale, along with the Himalaya of assorted "HSM2" items strategically placed in the aisles to tempt kids and parents now making their back-to-school shopping decisions.
Disney offers viewers three chances to catch "High School Musical 2" this weekend, repeating it at 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
¢ Sometimes, a popular uprising can get results. Fans of "Jericho" (see below) pressured CBS to bring the drama back for a second season. More recently, "Stargate Atlantis" fans embarked on a letter-writing campaign to save the character of Carson Beckett (Paul McGillion) after he was apparently killed off the show at the end of season three.
Well, he's back. Or at least he'll return for the fourth-season opener Sept. 28. According to the producers of "Atlantis," the ruckus was the "fan cry heard 'round the Pegasus galaxy."
They also assure us that the events surrounding Beckett's return will prove every bit as shocking as his apparent demise.
Tonight's other highlights
- Melinda's spectral captor appears linked to a recent jewelry heist on "Ghost Whisperer" (7 p.m., CBS).
- The Jets host the Vikings in preseason NFL action (7 p.m., Fox).
- Hawkins falls under suspicion on "Jericho" (8 p.m., CBS).
- Buried treasure on "Monk" (8 p.m., USA).
- A trip to the Amazon on "Survivorman" (8 p.m., Discovery).
- Star Jones appears on "Larry King Live" (8 p.m., CNN).
- Stars present and past hit the rodeo circuit on "Ty Murray's Celebrity Bull Riding Challenge" (8 p.m., CMT).
- A death row confession seems fishy on "Numb3rs" (9 p.m., CBS).
- Scheduled on "20/20" (9 p.m., ABC): myths and legends of summer.
- The good life can be murder on "Psych" (9 p.m., USA).
- Humor in uniform on "Wildest Cop Show Moments" (9:30 p.m., E!).
- Life amongst the reindeer herders of Siberia on "Going Tribal" (9 p.m., Discovery).
- Looking for a feel-good chaser to "High School Musical 2"? Keep the sensation alive with the 1977 concert film "ABBA: The Movie" (9 p.m., Documentary).