Archive for Friday, June 12, 2009

Reality series troll the Parkway

June 12, 2009


Excuse me if I get too Jersey for you, but that seems to be where TV wants to go.

Who knew small New Jersey businesses were so entertaining? I certainly didn’t when I got my first job working at a sad little pet store in Clifton for the then- minimum wage of $1.65 an hour.

Family-run businesses from the Garden State have become the locus of reality television. Bravo’s “Real Housewives of New Jersey” touts The Brownstone, a catering facility in Paterson. “Cake Boss” on TLC documents the fun, games and icing artistry at a Hoboken bakery. Can a show based on Rutt’s Hutt be far behind?

“Masters of Reception” (9 p.m., TLC) documents the Frungillo family as they run several wedding and reception facilities in Northern New Jersey. Their demanding clients have run the gamut from Frank Sinatra to the pope.

But some wedding parties bring a certain sense of entitlement — demanding hot air balloons, or dogs in the bridal party or a trumpet flourish to accompany a bride’s arrival in a Cinderella buggy. “Masters” puts the emphasis on the high-wire act of pulling off a flawless performance on an everyday basis. The Frungillos know better than most that even the least sympathetic bride still deserves the chance to create memories of a lifetime.

• For those who see life as a series of challenges to be surmounted and checked off, Liza Fromer hosts “The List” (8 p.m., Fine Living). It covers a series of dubiously attainable dreams, from enjoying decadent deserts in exotic locales to performing onstage with a famous rock star, to the career-endangering goal of hitting one’s boss in the face with a pie.

If you’re the kind of person who has a thousand things you must do before you die, would you add watching “The List” to your list?

• Viewers who don’t have time to monitor the outer fringes of reality programming get a cheat sheet of sorts on “Wildest TV Show Moments” (9:30 p.m., E!). Comic Loni Love hosts this clip-fest consisting of stolen moments from “Cheaters,” “Bridezillas” and “Cops,” the grand-daddy of cringe programming. Love will be joined by comedians Wendi McLendon-Covey (“Reno 911”), Jacob Sirof (“Last Comic Standing”) and Christina Pazsitzky (“Dr. Doolittle”), who offer their own commentary.

• Comic Adam Ferrara discusses his first night in jail and the nuances of his ethnic background among other things in his one-hour stand-up special “Adam Ferrara: Funny As Hell” (10 p.m., Comedy Central).

• A note of clarification. Contrary to comments made in this column last Friday, the accidental death of a Japanese seaman, the focus of one controversy on “Whale Wars” (8 p.m., Animal Planet), did not result from an encounter with the Sea Shepherds, who are the focus of this documentary series.

Tonight’s other highlights

• An imaginary friend causes a real disruption on “Ghost Whisperer” (7 p.m., CBS).

• Scheduled on the talk show “Friday Night with Jonathan Ross” (7 p.m., BBC America): Dustin Hoffman.

• A former agent phones in a bomb threat on “Flashpoint” (8 p.m., CBS).

• Lightening strikes again on “Mental” (8 p.m., Fox), guest-starring the late David Carradine.


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