"Hard Shine" (9 p.m., TLC) arrives with a dull thud. It's as if the sole purpose of this 10-part reality series is to prove that the garage-documentary genre has run out of gas.
Hot-rod expert Jimmy Shine takes five "troubled" proteges under his wing and gives them a chance to build/design their own souped-up retro cars. Some of the contestants have had bad experiences with the law and/or family tragedies. Others call themselves "artists."
Most curiously of all, the network promotes Shine as a rebel. But the first thing he does is describe his pride in his company, the SO-CAL Speed Shop, and talk about its three generations of crafting innovative hot-rod designs. That's all very interesting, but that doesn't make him a rebel. If anything, Shine comes off as a proud traditionalist and a bit of a company man. He speaks in an intense monotone that reminds me of Patrick Swayze's turn as Bodhi in the 1991 surfing thriller "Point Break."
With a few alterations, he could be a junior vice president of a bank, putting a bunch of management trainees through the motions. Shine is definitely intense, but he's not terribly interesting.
¢ Two of A&E's most popular nonfiction series return tonight. "The First 48" (8 p.m., A&E) looks at efforts of Dallas police to find the killer of a 52-year-old woman who had spent 20 years working with the blind before being murdered in the lobby of her building. The show's title refers to the first 48 hours of the hunt for a killer. After that short window of opportunity, the trail often grows cold.
Then "SWAT" (9 p.m., A&E) resurfaces in Kansas City, where officers are on the verge of taking down a major methamphetamine laboratory.
Tonight's other highlights
¢ Earl and Randy go south of the border to rescue Catalina on "My Name is Earl" (7 p.m.).
¢ Halloween horrors on "Ugly Betty" (7 p.m., ABC).
¢ A heroic citizen (Don Cheadle) risks all to save more than a thousand lives during a genocidal civil war in the 2004 drama "Hotel Rwanda" (7 p.m., MyNetwork).
¢ On two episodes of "The Office" (NBC), Michael's vacation snapshots prove revealing (8 p.m.), a birthday party on ice (9 p.m.).
¢ The search for a political assassin calls for new techniques on "CSI" (8 p.m., CBS).
¢ Jack and Liz attend the birthday party of an ailing foreign prince (Paul Reubens) on "30 Rock" (8:30 p.m., NBC).
¢ Sebastian tangles with a talent he once mentored on "Shark" (9 p.m., CBS).
¢ Marin consults Jack about a sick critter on "Men in Trees" (9 p.m., ABC).