Morgan Spurlock's 30 Days (Tuesday, 9 p.m., FX) invites participants to immerse themselves in a world very different from their own. It's a daring social experiment that delves into topical issues, sometimes with painful results.
In this week's episode, a conservative religious woman named Kati spends 30 days with Tom and Dennis, two gay men raising adopted sons. To understand where they're coming from, she's required to work for a same-sex-parents advocacy group and attend meetings of a lesbian-mothers networking group. Will the experience soften her militant opposition to gay and lesbian adoption?
The episode offers fascinating insight into the homophobic brain. At every turn, Kati is confronted with evidence that Tom and Dennis are a model couple and caring parents for former foster kids who otherwise wouldn't have a home. She is forced to admit as much, but she refuses to let the truth get in the way of her conclusions. "My belief is that the gay and lesbian lifestyle is not correct," she keeps saying, with no proof other than that it's "her belief." When gays and lesbians gently ask her why she would deny them their humanity, she screams, cries or stomps away rather than offering a rationale. She accuses them of disrespecting her rights - in other words, her right to deprive them of their rights.
Clearly, 30 days are not enough to open such a closed mind. Maybe if Spurlock produced a series called 1,000 Years....
Friday, 7 pm (Disney Channel). Saturday, 7 pm (ABC). Sunday, 7 pm (ABC Family)
Teenybopper heartthrobs the Jonas Brothers star in a TV movie set at a summer music camp for aspiring young artists. The only way poor girl Mitchie Torres (Demi Lovato) can afford the camp is if she earns her keep in the kitchen. A troubled superstar happens to hear her singing and absolutely must find out who she is. She helps him rediscover his passion for music, while he helps her believe in herself.
You're sure to enjoy Camp Rock - that is, unless you turn from 11 to 12 just before the airdate.
Tuesday, 7 pm (ABC)
This reality series pits thrill-seekers against an extreme obstacle course that causes them to wipe out over and over again. They fall down, we laugh. They fall down, we laugh. They fall down, we...have grave doubts about the future of this once great nation.
Survived a Japanese Game Show
Tuesday, 8 pm (ABC)
In this reality series, 10 Americans travel to Japan and compete in one of their nutty game shows. They must eat food attached to someone's head while he's running on a fast-moving treadmill. They must collect stuffed animals while dangling from a crane operated by a blindfolded teammate. And they must smash huge goo-filled eggs with their butts while wearing a chicken suit.
Now you know why the series isn't titled I Survived a Japanese Game Show With My Dignity Intact.
Wednesday, 7 pm (NBC)
In this reality series, five teenage couples are shown what the future may hold. After being set up in a home, they're asked to care for an infant, then a toddler, then an adolescent, then a senior citizen. They stumble through every challenge and learn about the responsibilities associated with adult life.
Interesting. But one can't help wondering what happens to the infants, toddlers, adolescents and senior citizens once The Baby Borrowers is through with them. Are they simply returned to the prop shop and made available to other reality series?
Lifetime Achievement Award
Wednesday, 8 pm (USA)
Every time you turn around, Warren Beatty is picking up a lifetime-achievement award. He gets another one here, despite the fact that he hasn't directed a film in 10 years or acted in one in seven.
Maybe if Beatty skipped a few lifetime-achievement ceremonies he'd actually have time to achieve something again.
Thursday, 8:30 pm (TBS)
Other critics liked this sitcom more than I did, so I thought I'd give its new season a chance. But My Boys didn't seem any better this time around, with its dud jokes and humor-challenged cast. The wafer-thin premise finds a Chicago singleton (Jordana Spiro) hanging out with a group of guy friends. That means we have to hang out with them too - an unappetizing prospect, given that they're horny, boozy, grungy, lazy and stupid. And not in a good way.
I was struck by the lack of a laugh track, until it occurred to me that there might actually be one and even it doesn't find My Boys funny.