'The O.C.' gains buzz factor, ratings boost

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Have viewers finally had enough "reality"? Of the dozens of unscripted shows to unspool this summer, not one has emerged as a genuine hit, like "Joe Millionaire" did last winter. "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" (9 p.m., Bravo) has become the water-cooler show of the season, but that's more in the makeover genre than "reality." Another interesting sign of change occurred last week when the soapy new Fox drama "The O.C." (8 p.m., Fox) actually gained viewers in its second week. That may not seem Earth-shattering, but after watching new summer series like "Charlie Lawrence" and "Keen Eddie" disappear without a trace, it's almost shocking to see a real drama gain some traction. On tonight's episode of "The O.C.," Ryan's flaky mother Dawn returns.

Tonight's other highlights

Cult choice

Bette Davis teams up with mad scientist Christopher Lee in the 1978 shocker "Return from Witch Mountain" (9 p.m., Hallmark).

Series notes

Stuck inside on "Big Brother 4" (7 p.m., CBS) ... Precocious child stars on "American Juniors" (7 p.m., Fox) ... A stolen kiss on "8 Simple Rules" (7 p.m., ABC) ... Natalie meets the folks on "One on One" (7 p.m., UPN).

Mixed signals on "Life With Bonnie" (7:30 p.m., ABC) ... Abby swings the ax on "Abby" (7:30 p.m., UPN).

The dating games continue on "Cupid" (8 p.m., CBS) ... A wounded critter on "According to Jim" (8 p.m., ABC).

Claude's brother impresses Lydia on "Less Than Perfect" (8:30 p.m., ABC).

Late night

Lucy Liu and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds appear on "Late Show with David Letterman" (10:35 p.m., CBS) ... Jay Leno welcomes Jennifer Aniston, Tyler Florence and Sugar Ray on "The Tonight Show" (10:35 p.m., NBC).

Ringo Starr and Eddie Izzard are booked on "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" (11:35 p.m., NBC) ... Peter Boyle, Kelly Rowland and Jessica Simpson appear on "The Late, Late Show with Craig Kilborn" (11:37 p.m., CBS).