Mom-and-pop shops get makeover treatment

"Taking Care of Business" (9 p.m. today, TLC) offers a smart variation on the tired -- and, to my mind, tiresome -- makeover reality genre. While shows like "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" and "Trading Spaces" offer individuals new looks and enhanced attitudes, "Taking" offers survival tips for struggling small business on the brink of disaster.

In the debut episode, the panel of experts, including a publicist, a retail designer, a management expert and a millionaire entrepreneur, examine the prospects for the survival of The Microchip Cafe in Brooklyn, N.Y. Founded in 2000, the cafe lost most of its Internet business to home users as high-speed access became ubiquitous. To compensate, they offered a hodgepodge of services, including computer repair, gaming and snacks. Along the way, the owners lost focus and confused customers. Worst of all, their store became a complete mess.

After a quick tour, the "Taking Care of Business" team offers some tough love and expensive suggestions. The cafe closes for renovations for three days and reopens with a whole new look and business plan. While initial results are positive, not all of the experts believe The Microchip Cafe will survive the long haul.

You don't have to own a small business to enjoy this series.

Tonight's other highlights

¢ The Yankees and the Red Sox meet in Game Three of the American League Championship Series (6:30 p.m., Fox).

¢ Scheduled on "48 Hours Investigates" (9 p.m., CBS): a teen's murder confession does not ring true.

¢ Gabrielle receives a perfect rose on "Desperate Housewives" (9 p.m., ABC).

Sunday's highlights

¢ Scheduled on "60 Minutes" (6 p.m., CBS): a profile of a prolific serial killer who may go free; a profile of Ray Charles; a college admissions controversy in Texas.

¢ The Cardinals and Astros meet in Game Four of the National League Championship Series (6:30 p.m., Fox).

¢ Rob Lowe and Anna Friel star in the 2004 TV romance "Perfect Strangers" (8 p.m., CBS).

¢ Dinner plans survive Mary Alice's demise on "Desperate Housewives" (8 p.m., ABC).

¢ Viewers get to choose an alternative ending to "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" (8 p.m., NBC) by clicking onto www.NBC.com.

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