Jackie Warner is a workout guru, shameless self-promoter and reality-series repeat offender. In Thintervention with Jackie Warner (Monday, 9 p.m., Bravo), she oversees a group of overweight people interested in losing weight. "Workouts are not painful," she assures them. "They are pleasure!"
Coming from Jackie, this is a bald-faced lie. She delights in pushing her charges past the breaking point. She shames one poor guy by forcing him to run up and down stairs holding a couple of the cookies he wanted to eat. "You should feel burning right now!" she shouts during workouts. "Are you burning? Are you burning?"
If you think Jackie is hard to like, wait till you meet some of the contestants. "I'm dreading sitting there listening to these fat-asses talking about their problems," says a man named Joe, who has no basis for condescension, ass-wise.
I hope he's burning.
Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam
Friday, 7 pm (Disney)
The sub-High School Musical returns as the cool singer-campers at Camp Rock battle their evil competitors at neighboring Camp Star. Expect creaky comedy and rock-star posing from Demi Lovato and the Jonas Brothers, who belt out would-be rousing lyrics: "If you can jump like David Lee Roth/And pump your fist like you're Bruce the Boss/If you've got heart and soul/You can rock and roll!"
I'm taking the subtitle, "The Final Jam," as a promise. If Disney later comes out with Just Kidding: Camp Rock 3, I'm going to want some answers.
Monday, 8 pm (VH1)
Money Hungry is your basic weight-loss reality program, with weigh-ins and eliminations, tears and recriminations. The gimmick is that each two-person team must put up $10,000 of their own money, which they will forfeit if they don't lose enough weight.
There's one nice byproduct of this system: We get to see contestants not only eliminated, but impoverished. It's the revenge on obnoxious reality stars we've always dreamed of! Any chance of foreclosing on their houses as well?
My Trip to Al Qaeda
Tuesday, 8 pm (HBO)
Lawrence Wright has provided insight into the roots of Islamist terrorism in New Yorker articles and books like The Looming Tower. In this filmed version of his one-man play, he offers an audiovisual primer on his ideas, and I guarantee you will come away with a new understanding of both radical Islam and the U.S. war on terror.
Wright begins with his own journey through the Muslim world as a teacher and journalist, offering a glimpse of the hopelessness that pushes young men toward terrorism. He raises the hair on the back of your neck with his take on their reaction to the U.S. invasion of Iraq:
"Behind their anger there was, it seems to me, a sense of relief, of exhilaration, because history has finally been unveiled for what it truly is an endless religious war that can never end until God restores his blessing on the Muslims and leads them to crush the infidels. Suddenly I have the dark realization that we are following a script that has been written by Osama Bin Laden. This is the role he's been longing for us to play."
Wright fears that our response to 9/11 from the invasion of Iraq to the torture of Muslim prisoners to the curtailment of our own civil liberties has played right into Bin Laden's hands. His final thought is at once reassuring and terrifying:
"Al Qaeda can't destroy America. Only we can do that to ourselves."
Sons of Anarchy
Tuesday, 9 pm (FX)
I don't know how FX does it, but the network is getting me to sympathize with stringy-haired, violent motorcycle thugs in Sons of Anarchy. As the new season begins, the leather-jacketed gang and its leader, Clay (Ron Perlman), are in crisis mode after their archenemy kidnaps Jax's baby. They spend the episode searching for the child, and that leads them to shoot at people and drive their motorcycles really fast. (Well, to be honest, almost everything leads them to do that.)
The sick thing is, you root for them, no matter how foul they get. These creeps have a soulful quality, even when threatening law-enforcement agents. "Anything happens to my grandson," Clay hisses at an FBI woman, "and I promise you I'm gonna shove a gun up that bony ass of yours, and I'm gonna blow your black heart out!"
God help me, but I responded to this speech by muttering "damn straight." I'm even starting to think stringy hair looks good. FX, what are you doing to me?