Home show takes 'reality' to new low

Everything you've learned to love (or hate) about "reality" television and contrived "makeover" shows can be found on the new competitive renovation series "House Rules" (7 p.m., TBS).

With host Mark Wahlberg ("Anything for Love"), "Rules" pits three squealing couples against each other in a game of home improvement. Each couple is assigned an empty house in Katy, Texas, a Houston suburb. The teams will redo one room a week and subject themselves to the judgment of a panel of experts. Teams also will "earn" credits for tools and supplies by winning painting and spackling games and other tests of skill.

At the end of the 12-week run, viewers get to choose the winning couple during a live broadcast. The winners get the (large, bland) house they've just beautified. We presume they'll want to keep it.

  • Now entering its second season, the sci-fi fantasy "Jeremiah" (9 p.m., Showtime) isn't even bad enough to laugh at. Set in a murky post-apocalyptic future, "Jeremiah" tells of a world where, 20 years earlier, a deadly virus killed everyone who had not yet reached puberty. Now "the kids" try to scratch out some order and fend off a fascist government located in a place called "the Valhalla Sector."

It's off-putting when the title character, Jeremiah (Luke Perry, "Beverly Hills 90210"), refers to himself as one of "the kids." Perry -- who turns 38 Saturday -- should start acting his age. I guess if you wear the right clothes and forget to shave every other day you can still call yourself a kid in the Valhalla Sector of Hollywood.

  • Scheduled on "Now with Bill Moyers" (8 p.m., PBS): the second in a continuing examination of President Bush's "faith-based" initiatives. Taxpayer-funded "faith offices" have emerged in several federal agencies, including Health and Human Services, Justice, and Housing and Urban Development. These offices will help funnel billions of tax dollars to religious organizations. Moyers talks with critics who call this practice a threat to democracy and others who contend that the religious groups only want to help people in need.

Tonight's other highlights

  • "The Season" (6 p.m., ESPN) profiles Penn State football coach Joe Paterno and glances back at his 54-year career.
  • Chicago and Florida meet in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series (7 p.m., Fox).
  • Second chances on "Miss Match" (8 p.m., NBC).
  • "Inside Fame" (8 p.m., CMT) profiles Reba McEntire.
  • Scheduled on "20/20" (9 p.m., ABC): an interview with Courteney Cox and David Arquette.

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