Fox introduces must-flee TV

Oh, blessed summer: a time for romance, walks on the beach, baseball, hot dogs, s'mores, sunsets, incandescent fireflies ... and some of the worst television ever committed to videotape. This wasn't always the case. Summer used to be a time when networks tried out new talent. "Seinfeld" debuted as a summer replacement show, running from May through July of 1990.

I am afraid we won't be discovering any shows on the level of "Seinfeld" this summer. Tonight, Fox debuts two new summer shows, one less promising than the next.

� "30 Seconds to Fame" (7 p.m., Fox) is a new variation on the old amateur hour. Talented individuals and teams are given exactly one half minute to impress a studio audience. Every week somebody will win a grand prize of $25,000.

This show, which was not made available for review, seems like a throwback to the 1970s when Gary Owens and Chuck Barris hosted "The Gong Show," a purposefully tasteless parody of amateur hour contests. But on "The Gong Show" the grand prize was $516.32.

� Remember all those pundits and prophets who predicted that reality television would kill the sitcom? "Meet the Marks" (7:30 p.m., Fox), promises to blend the sitcom and reality genres. "Meet" features a cast of paid performers who act out a scripted comedy. Each episode calls for an outsider, called "the mark," to walk into the show and become a "guest star" without knowing he or she is part of the show. Again, this show was not made available for review, so I can't tell you how Fox found people dim enough not to notice that they had walked onto a fully lighted set in front of a camera crew. Help yourself.

� I was a little depressed when NBC trotted out "The Most Outrageous Game Show Moments" (7 p.m.) during last May's sweeps period. That's the time when networks are supposed to show their best stuff, not canned clips from ancient reruns. But this repeat flashback to daytime classics like "Name That Tune," "Password," "Press Your Luck," "Tattletales," and "The Newlywed Game" seems strangely appropriate to this very lazy summer night.

Tonight's other highlights

� Scheduled on "60 Minutes II" (7 p.m., CBS): homicidal teens stalk a postcard-perfect town.

� Tim Matheson ("The West Wing") stars in the drama series "Breaking News" (7 p.m., Bravo) set in the studios of a 24-hour cable news channel. "News" was produced, but never aired by TNT.

� Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels star in the 1994 comedy "Dumb and Dumber" (7 p.m., WB).

� Elimination continues on "American Idol" (8:30 p.m., Fox).

� Scheduled on "48 Hours" (9 p.m., CBS): a fraud who passed as a doctor for more than 20 years.

� The documentary series "State v." (9 p.m., ABC) concludes with a trial of a woman who claims she killed in self defense.

Cult choice

A stoic detective (Harrison Ford) hunts down wayward androids in director Ridley Scott's 1982 sci-fi gem "Blade Runner" (9:30 p.m., USA).

Series notes

"Brother" is new ... On back-to-back episodes of "My Wife and Kids" (ABC) Michael suspends the rules, and chaos ensues (7 p.m.), Gary Coleman guest stars (7:30 p.m.) ... Marooned on a damaged Klingon vessel on "Enterprise" (7 p.m., UPN).

Incarceration on "Big Brother 3" (8 p.m., CBS) ... Bartlet engages in dangerous brinksmanship with China on "The West Wing" (8 p.m., NBC) ... Bernie's talk radio patter wounds Wanda on "Bernie Mac" (8 p.m., FOX) ... On back-to-back episodes of "The Drew Carey Show" (ABC), Drew pines for Kate (8 p.m.), Mr. Wick's mother (Richard Chamberlain) woos Drew (8:30 p.m.).

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