In The Protector (Sunday, 9 p.m., Lifetime), Gloria Sheppard (Ally Walker) is a single mom and L.A. homicide detective. In the TV universe, where most female dramatic heroines must be soft and sympathetic, the scenario would imply that Gloria do her job in sexy outfits; that she have some weakness beneath her hard exterior; and that she go weak-kneed at the sight of a handsome guy.
But The Protector avoids such demeaning cliches. Det. Sheppard stands out among TV's female law-and-order types by being unapologetically smart and tough. Yes, she's human, too, but her relationship with her kids is tender without being gooey. It's exhilarating to watch this fast-talking dynamo as she gulps espresso and cracks wise in her husky voice. As played by the wondrous Walker (Sons of Anarchy, The Profiler), Sheppard is a distinctive character without having to wear eccentricity on her sleeve.
"Did anybody ever tell you you're a little peculiar?" asks Gloria's partner.
"If by peculiar you mean awesome, then the answer is yes," she replies.
The answer is most definitely yes.
101 Ways to Leave a Game Show
Tuesday, 8 pm (ABC)
The brain trust at ABC was tasked with creating a wild-and-wacky summer game show. Thus, we have 101 Ways to Leave a Game Show, which dabbles in extreme elimination. If contestants answer a question wrong, they're shot into the air, flung through windows, blown out of a house or sent careening in a flaming car.
I began fantasizing about poetic methods of cancellation for 101 Ways to Leave a Game Show. Flood? Locusts?
State of Georgia
Wednesday, 7:30 pm (ABC Family)
Raven-Symoné returns to TV in a sitcom about Georgia, a Southern belle and aspiring actress who blusters her way through New York City. State of Georgia is as old-school as sitcoms get, with a laugh track, punchlines, extravagant costumes and a larger-than-life star. The title character has a kooky sidekick, natch, and a penchant for getting into jams with her never-say-die approach to stardom. Expect screaming, silly accents, funny faces - in other words, shameless mugging.
State of Georgia comes on strong, but I don't mind given the talent involved. The series insists that you smile at its broad comedy, and just like Georgia herself, it won't take no for an answer. So you might as well just give in.
Love in the Wild
Wednesday, 9 pm (NBC)
How to find a new variation on a dating series? Love in the Wild sends singles into the Costa Rican jungle, where all of them hope to find (how did you guess?) a soul mate. And really, what better place to look than a harsh environment with ferocious crocodiles, man-eating ants, and reality-show gimmicks like eliminations and rewards?
"You're gonna learn real quick if you can stand the person or not," says one contestant.
I learned real quick that I couldn't stand them. They're whiny and shallow, and they modify almost every noun with "freakin'" - as in "freakin' crocodile" and "freakin' jungle."
As you'd expect, the wilderness isn't conducive to civilized behavior. "You're lucky that you're a girl," says one testosterone-addled meathead to his would-be soul mate. "Let the man take charge."
Time to change the freakin' channel.
Wednesday, 9:30 pm (TV Land)
Fran Drescher returns to TV in a sitcom about a woman who still lives with her ex-husband -- platonically -- after discovering that he's gay. The story is based on Drescher's real-life relationship with ex-husband Peter Marc Jacobson, who co-created Happily Divorced with her.
But don't expect any reality to creep into the episodes. The series is as broad as I Love Lucy, with creaky gags that send the laugh track into hysterics. Drescher exaggerates her New Yawk accent even more than she did in The Nanny: "bett-uh" for "better," "goy" for "guy," etc.
She still has plenty of sitcom skill, but this vehicle could have been bett-uh.