Low-Rent Pleasure

CW, Sept. 8, 9 p.m. ET/PT |

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DRAMA
This new Melrose, the CW's second revival of an Aaron Spelling hit after 90210, makes a splashy, loud cannonball of a debut: In the first 15 minutes, a corpse is floating facedown in that famous apartment-complex pool. The original series was slow to start, lacking Heather Locklear's icy-terse boss-vixen Amanda until six months into season 1. This version already has Katie Cassidy. As ruthless publicist Ella Simms, she's cool and blonde and all but smirks at her own awfulness. Mr. Spelling would have clapped his little hands. The other Melrose residents aren't in her league, not even the old show's Thomas Calabro, back as creepo Michael Mancini. But the premiere, at least, has the sort of trashy zip that can earn a prime-time soap pride of place.

>1 DAYTIME EMMYS SUN. 8/30 8 P.M. CW

Vanessa Williams hosts. Personal fave: Discovery's Cash Cab for best game show.

2 A LITTLE BIT COUNTRY ... MON. 8/31 8 P.M. ABC

Brad Paisley performs on CMA Music Festival: Country's Night to Rock.

3 GREEK REVIVAL MON. 8/31 9 P.M. ABC FAMILY

Casey (Spencer Grammer) confronts romantic rejection in season 3's premiere.

4 WEEDS MON. 8/31 10 P.M. SHOWTIME

Great season-end jolt for the eccentric comedy starring Mary-Louise Parker.

5 FLAME-THROWER TUES. 9/1 10 P.M. FX

Denis Leary's Rescue Me wraps a fine season. Expect loss, fury—the usual themes.

>• In his new ABC show, the basketball star, 37, challenges the world's best athletes—including Michael Phelps and Serena Williams—on their own turf.

HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THIS? I'm like most males—thinking he can do something he's not a professional at. I was sitting in a bar watching [NFL quarterback] Ben Roethlisberger throwing a touchdown pass, and I said, "Hey, you give me the same block and I can make the same play."

WHAT'S BEEN THE TOUGHEST? So far, beach volleyball. In the sand you're off-balance. And I know swimming will be tough because Michael Phelps is a super-freakish athlete.

LOTS OF ATHLETES HAVE COMPETED ON DANCING WITH THE STARS. WHY NOT YOU? 'Cause I wasn't the first to do it. I like to be first. I'm selfish like that.

DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE REALITY SHOW? I don't really watch a lot of TV. My kids dominate the house with cartoons, and you've gotta watch what they like.

>1 HE'S SUBTLE—AND SNEAKY His character, vampire Eric Northman, has begun to overshadow fanged hero Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer) in season 2 of HBO's deliriously peculiar hit. Maybe I'm just tired of Bill grabbing Anna Paquin and growling, "Sookie!" in a smoky southern accent. Skarsgård's Eric, wan and mischievous, looks more like a '70s male model "turned" at Studio 54.

2 HE'S SEDUCTIVE Eric tricked Sookie into becoming his psychosexual accomplice. Torn between two vampires, actin' like a fool ... putting earnest-as-milk Paquin in this pickle is irresistible.

3 HE'S A ... GOOD PUPPY? Despite his cold-bloodedness, Eric went to pieces when his maker, Godric, died in quasi-religious ecstasy at sunup. Did I say the show is deliriously peculiar?

>The former hosts of BBC's What Not to Wear, Susannah Constantine, 47 (right), and Trinny Woodall, 45, bring their expertise to the U.S. in the new TLC series.

WHAT SEPARATES AMERICAN WOMEN FROM BRITS?

CONSTANTINE: It doesn't matter if you're Cindy Crawford or somebody working in a deli in New Jersey, all women have insecurities. Women are the same all over the world.

WOODALL: In terms of style, I'd say the heat of the country might [cause Americans] to wear more shorts and baggy T-shirts. But there will be an equivalent unflattering outfit in the U.K.!

WHAT WAS BEST ABOUT THE U.S.?

CONSTANTINE: Dunkin' Donuts drive-ins.

WOODALL: They have a good coffee, and I'm very careful about my coffee.

>Wendy Williams knows a few things about big hairpieces. "I have been wearing wigs for 10 years," says the talk show host, 45, who owns more than 20 of them and switches between five looks on her syndicated program The Wendy Williams Show. "I have thyroid disease, so my natural hair gets thin and is definitely not enough for a career in showbiz, where hair is power." The former radio personality dished about her favorite hair-raising TV wigs of all time.

GEORGE (SEINFELD) He just looked so silly. Men can't pull off toupees as well as women can wigs. If George had straightened it up and thinned it out, he could actually pull it off.

MARGE (THE SIMPSONS) I can't get enough of this. Combine big and high and then make it blue ... diva! I would never go as high as Marge, but I do like a beehive. I always say the higher the hair, the closer to God!

CHER (1986 OSCARS) I loved this hair on Cher, but I would never go that straight, that high or have that much hair spray. I admired this from afar. But I definitely couldn't wear a wig like this on my show, especially in HD!

PEGGY BUNDY (MARRIED ... WITH CHILDREN) Peg's big wigs blended perfectly with her glitzy housewife persona. She was a firecracker with the hair to match the personality. Loved it!

JAN BRADY (THE BRADY BUNCH) Jan's a hot mess, but she had the guts to wear it. Yes, the color's wrong against her skin, but Brady fans remember this episode.