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I LOVE TELEVISION

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I'm usually not a fan of the "old-timey ways." In fact, I'm so "new-timey" that I've already returned my iPhone and am currently researching "telepathy" as my new-timey mode of communication. However! Sometimes "old-timey" people get it right. Like those Puritans from the Salem witch trials? Now, I'm not saying they were morally "right" — for example, dunking a suspect in the lake, and if the "witch" happened to survive, immediately burning her at the stake — but I do maintain their methods were an effective means of anti-witchery. If I knew Puritans were running around burying people under heavy stones to test if they had supernatural powers, I might think twice about flying on my broom in order to consort with the devil.

The same should go for people who produce stupid television shows. This doesn't necessarily mean "burning them at the stake," but apparently being called "stupid" by TV columnists isn't much of a deterrent. Unbelievably, there are three such stupid shows debuting on the SAME EXACT DAY this week — with the MOST STUPID TITLES EVER.

This Sunday, July 15, at 8 p.m., the Lifetime network debuts its newest show, Side Order of Life. No, I'm not kidding. I realize that Lifetime has made a killing catering to the lowest female denominator, but Side Order of Life is the most terrible title since The Vagina Monologues. Not that you care, but the press release says Side Order of Life is about "a young magazine photographer who reevaluates her life and impending nuptials after receiving ‘a wake-up call from the universe.'" BRRRIINGGG! BRRRIINGGG! Hello, this is the universe calling — it's time to wake up and realize this is the stupidest idea for a show anyone's ever heard!!

Next at 9 p.m., it's VH1's new dating reality show titled Rock of Love with Bret Michaels. "ROCK OF LOVE"? What's that supposed to mean? I understand that Bret Michaels is the former lead singer of hair-metal group Poison. And I understand that he's going to choose his new girlfriend from 20 groupies living in his mansion. And I understand that somebody's gonna get a mean case of herpes. BUT "ROCK OF LOVE"??

And the hits just keep on comin'! Because then, at 10:30 p.m., VH1 debuts another celeb reality show that really takes the stupid cake, called Scott Baio Is 45 … and Single. That's not a title. That's a truth we hold to be self-evident. You remember Scott as Chachi from Happy Days and Charles from Charles in Charge. What you don't realize is there's a reason Scott is — as he so obviously puts it — "45 and single." BECAUSE HE'S A WITCH! No normal former child actor is alone at that age — therefore I decree that Scott Baio has entered into a contract with the devil! (Besides, I'm pretty sure I once saw him fly on a broomstick and turn into a talking hog.) We must rid our hamlet of Baio and his diabolical sorcery! In fact … that sounds like a pretty good reality show! How does this sound for a title: Scott Baio Is 45… So Let's Dunk Him in the Lake to See if He's a Witch?

Burn 'em at the stake.

steve@portlandmercury.com

THIS WEEK ON THE BOOB TOOB

THURSDAY, JULY 12

8 p.m. NBC MY NAME IS EARL

A funny two-part repeat in which Earl and Randy travel to Mexico to rescue a deported Catalina.

9 p.m. VH1 WORLD SERIES OF POP CULTURE

Finally, a game show that won't make you want to jab your eyes out with a screwdriver.

FRIDAY, JULY 13

9 p.m. FOX DRIVE

Series finale! Your last opportunity to watch poor Nathan Fillion's (Firefly) cross-country car race show.

10 p.m. USA PSYCH

Season premiere! If you like your detective shows "whimsical," check out this one about a private eye who pretends he's psychic!

SATURDAY, JULY 14

9 p.m. SCIFI SUPERGATOR

(Movie, 2007) A gigantic super-powered alligator (!) is discovered living in … an active Hawaiian volcano?? This is the most AWESOME plot for a movie EVER!!

SUNDAY, JULY 15

9 p.m. VH1 ROCK OF LOVE WITH BRET MICHAELS

Debut! The lead singer of Poison must choose among 20 skanks to see which is the perfect skank for him.

10:30 VH1 SCOTT BAIO IS 45 … AND SINGLE

Debut! Apparently that thing with Joanie didn't work out after all.

MONDAY, JULY 16

8 p.m. NBC VICTORIA BECKHAM: COMING TO AMERICA

Debut! Victoria (formerly "Posh Spice") and her soccer-playing hubby say "Cheerio" to England, and "What's up, mother-effer" to America.

9 p.m. FOX HELL'S KITCHEN

The winner of tonight's challenge gets to take his or her revenge on Chef Ramsay. Hide the butcher knives.

TUESDAY, JULY 17

8 p.m. ABC JUST FOR LAUGHS

Debut! A new show featuring comedy vignettes that are "just for laughs!" Sorry, no kids with leukemia allowed!

10 p.m. MTV ROOM 401

Debut! Ashton Kutcher's new show that explores the supernatural! (Like how a puss like him landed Demi Moore?)

WEDNESDAY, JULY 18

10:30 p.m. MTV JACKASS: WHERE ARE THEY NOW?

The Jackass gang looks back on their stunts, as their nurses treat their bursitis and feed them Metamucil.

10:30 p.m. TVLAND BACK TO THE GRIND

Debut! Loni Anderson (WKRP in Cincinnati) goes to work for a radio station, while Erik Estrada (CHiPs) endangers lives with the highway patrol.

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