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Archive for Monday, October 6, 2008

HGTV’s ‘Renovation’ spares no expense

October 6, 2008

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Cable TV has finally gotten the hint. Flipping houses just isn't in vogue anymore. I was intrigued by the fact that HGTV was adjusting to new realities with the series "My Big Amazing Renovation" (8 p.m., HGTV), which puts the emphasis on improving an existing home instead of trying to buy a new one.

Unfortunately, the accent here is on "Big" and ludicrously expensive. The properties under renovation tend toward the gargantuan. In one episode, we watch a 1,500-square-foot bungalow transformed into a 5,000-square-foot "dream" home. Whose dream is that? In another, a wealthy Chicago couple buys a number of adjacent high-rise apartments and turns them into a space large enough to house their egos. Their budget for renovation alone is $800,000, and they blow through that quickly. We have no idea what the original properties cost.

I don't know what the average viewer is supposed to take away from watching a high-strung client bossing around a harried contractor. Gone are the days when HGTV shows taught us basic skills like caulking or wiring. Now it's all about the drama of watching people spend other people's money.

¢ Tracy Morgan, who plays a deranged actor and hip-hop star on "30 Rock," hosts the "VH1 Hip-Hop Honors" (9 p.m., VH1), celebrating artists who broke new ground and changed the musical genre. This year's honorees include Cypress Hill, De La Soul, Naughty by Nature, Slick Rick and Too $hort. Look for appearances by Big Boi, Biz Markie, Bun B, Ghostface Killah and others.

¢ Annette Bening narrates "14 Women" (8 p.m., Sundance), an intimate documentary look at the careers and work and family lives of the 14 women serving in the U.S. Senate. Filmmaker Mary Lambert brings a unique perspective to her subject. Her sister is Sen. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas.

¢ "Magic's Biggest Secrets Revealed" (8 p.m., MyNetwork) has become a weekly series. Over the course of the season, "Magic" promises to expose more than 120 of the most memorable and popular illusions, including "Flying," "Train Levitation," "Water Escape," "Walking Through a Wall," "Escaping Death by Wood Chipper," "Walking on Water" and many others. You may never look at hats and rabbits the same way again.

Tonight's other highlights

¢ Chuck infiltrates a perilous web on "Chuck" (7 p.m., NBC).

¢ A military academy houses a future hero on "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" (7 p.m., Fox).

¢ The Saints host the Vikings on "Monday Night Football" (7:30 p.m., ESPN).

¢ Peter gambles with the future on "Heroes" (8 p.m., NBC).

¢ The gang arrives in Las Vegas on "Prison Break" (8 p.m., Fox).

¢ "American Experience" (8 p.m., PBS, check local listings) repeats a profile of president Jimmy Carter.

¢ A cop's accuser dies of an apparent suicide on "The Closer" (8 p.m., TNT).

¢ Delko's therapist loses his daughter to violence on "CSI: Miami" (9 p.m., CBS).

¢ Killers put a researcher on ice on "Life" (9 p.m., NBC).

¢ Denny uses a concealed weapon on "Boston Legal" (9 p.m., ABC).

¢ Jerry takes a curious hit-and-run case on "Raising the Bar" (9 p.m., TNT.

Cult choice

Keenen Ivory Wayans writes, directs and stars in "I'm Gonna Git You Sucka" (8:35 p.m., Encore). The 1988 blaxpoitation parody features stars of the genre, including Antonio Fargas, Isaac Hayes and Jim Brown.

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