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Archive for Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Tune in: Waging ’War$’ on consumers’ collections

December 1, 2010

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Are we the stories we tell ourselves? If so, some cable programmers are targeting a strange demographic of consumer carrion. “Storage War$” (9 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., A&E) becomes the second new cable series in the past three weeks to profile and celebrate dealers who buy out foreclosed storage lockers in search of hidden treasure. “Auction Hunters” on Spike debuted Nov. 9.

In each show, professionals get to glimpse at the insides of a storage locker whose owner has failed to keep up on the rent. They can look, but they can’t touch or enter before bidding in a furious auction that can get testy owing to personal rivalries. In tonight’s “War$,” an expert who has discovered several Picasso drawings in storage units offers a boastful overview of the trade and a dismissive take on his competitors. Another pro discovers a cache of custom-made monogrammed outfits belonging to rap producer Suge Knight, who apparently didn’t pay his movers.

“War$” goes one weird step beyond treasure hunting. I was reminded of the scene in “A Christmas Carol” when Scrooge’s servants start auctioning off his nightshirt and bed curtains only moments after his death.

• Familiar faces return for “Top Chef: All Stars” (9 p.m., Bravo). And that’s only half the problem. Most of the first half of the show rehashes the talent’s first “Chef” appearance and their tantalizing brush with success. If dialogue like “season five rocked!” is your idea of wit, then be my guest.

As with most “Top Chef” shows, this is more about ego than edification. And I’m just getting to the judges. One participant threatens Anthony Bourdain after a particularly nasty assessment. And he’s not the guy whose dish Bourdain discusses in terms of his recent colonoscopy!

• Speaking of familiar faces, Eric Roberts, Jeremy London, Rachel Uchitel, Janice Dickinson, Leif Garrett, Frankie Lons, Jason Wahler and Jason Davis enter “Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew” (9 p.m., VH1).

Tonight’s other highlights

• “The Other City” (6:30 p.m., Showtime) examines AIDS in Washington, D.C.

• Leo awakens under strange circumstances on “Undercovers” (7 p.m., NBC).

• Chance infiltrates a diamond heist on “Human Target” (8 p.m., Fox).

• Benson searches for a missing mother on “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” (8 p.m., NBC).

• A culinary re-enactment on “Hell’s Kitchen” (8 p.m., Fox).

• Questions of honesty on “Modern Family” (8 p.m., ABC).

• “The President’s Book of Secrets” (8 p.m., History) examines classified material.

• LL Cool J hosts “The Grammy Nominations Concert Live!” (9 p.m., CBS).

• Death by golf on “Law & Order: Los Angeles” (9 p.m., NBC).

• One dead dentist on “The Whole Truth” (9 p.m., ABC).

• A small-town drowning seems fishy on “Psych” (9 p.m., USA).

• “Taylor Swift” (9 p.m., E!) profiles the young singer.

• Hank feels out of options on the season finale of “Terriers” (9 p.m., FX).

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