Can a new season begin with a retrospective clip show? The second-season premiere of "Kitchen Nightmares" (7 p.m., Fox) does just that. On the other hand, reality television is nothing but clip shows.
In the first season, chef Gordon Ramsay traveled to failed eateries nationwide to discover cooks who forgot to care, families consumed in bickering and debt, customers appalled by slow service and cold, greasy food and kitchens, and storage units blighted by rotten food and roaches. It's tough to pick Ramsay's toughest moment. Was it the fights that almost erupted or the time he had to retreat to the men's room to regurgitate a congealed Shepherd's pie?
An introductory montage replays the fights Ramsay had with head-strong owners and chefs. After this collective flashback, "Nightmares" revisits every restaurant a year later. But we have to see the old, nasty clips for a second and sometimes a third time.
After marinating in these unhappy memories, we're shown a joyous reunion between Ramsay and his charges, who tell him that he's changed their restaurant, their lives and their business futures.
One former monster, Peter of Peter's restaurant on Long Island, tells us that he's a year older and wiser and promises us that he's going to name his firstborn son Gordon Ramsay Pellegrino.
Of course, nobody discusses the impact that network TV exposure had to do with their recent success.
The scenes of Ramsay acting happy and supportive seem oddly out of character and are just not terribly interesting. It's as if "Nightmares" were channeling Tolstoy's memorable line from "Anna Karenina," "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." That seems to go double for families who own restaurants.
After this repetitive two-hour love-in, viewers will be eager to visit the next restaurant train wreck.
f you don't want to relive last season, you can watch the original British version of "Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares" (7 p.m., BBC).
¢ I was taught that there is nothing more pointless and vulgar than discussing other people's salaries. But pointless and vulgar is a big part of cable programming, hence "Forbes Top 20 TV Cash Queens" (7 p.m., E!).
The program reveals which star of "Desperate Housewives" makes the most money and what baubles they are buying with their booty. Interviews include Paula Abdul, Heidi Klum and Kathryn Morris of "Cold Case."
¢ Coverage of the Republican National Convention
(5 p.m., CNN; 6 p.m., MSNBC; 7 p.m., PBS; 8:45 p.m., Fox News; 9 p.m., ABC, CBS, NBC) concludes with Sen. John McCain's address to the delegates.
Tonight's other highlights
Note: Local listings may vary because of sports coverage.
¢ The regular NFL season kicks off with a game between longtime rivals the Washington Redskins and New York Giants (6 p.m., NBC).
¢ U.S. Open Tennis
(6 p.m., USA).
¢ A baby shower to remember on "Ugly Betty" (7 p.m., ABC).
¢ A principal returns to his home town, Beverly Hills, on the series premiere of "90210" (7 p.m., CW).
¢ "True Hollywood Story" (8 p.m., E!) profiles Kate Hudson.