Home show takes 'reality' to new low

Friday, October 10, 2003

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.

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.

Tonight's other highlights