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Spring brings fresh television

Buckle up, TV fans: March will be a percolating playground of new material, thanks to more than 25 new and returning series planned on broadcast and cable by the month's end. • More than the typical spurt of new programming that comes in spring, this burst of fresh television feels more like a desperate grab for attention in a year of unprecedented flux. Which may terrify the industry, but only excites us couch potatoes. • Here's some of the most interesting stuff coming this week.

9 tonight

Celebrity Apprentice, WFLA-Ch. 8: Just when you think there couldn't be a bigger freak show than cramming Dennis Rodman, Joan Rivers, Andrew "Dice" Clay and Donald Trump into the same room, poker queen Annie Duke grabs the spotlight by ordering the other women around like croupiers, and ex-NFL star Herschel Walker makes noises about "spanking" Rodman for his attitude. A fine start to NBC's second cycle of organized celebrity humiliation.

TiVo or Ti-NO? If you like seeing the world's biggest blowhard vent on pampered celebrities who mostly deserve it (Clint Black and Jesse James, how did you nice guys get roped into this?) tune in.

9:30 p.m. MONDAY

RULES OF ENGAGEMENT, WTSP-Ch. 10: Producers of this CBS relationship comedy should hand the creators of Just Shoot Me a royalty check every time David Spade's character says anything. This night's episode features Spade's single lothario harassing Oliver Hudson for taking dance lessons with his fiancee, only to turn up secretly at a musical. JSM's ceramic kitten collector Dennis Finch is turning over in whatever limbo old TV characters rest in.

TiVo or Ti-NO? Watch only if jokes about women liking musicals and guys liking boat shows — like a real-life Flintstones episode — excite you.

8 p.m. TUESDAY

REAPER, WTOG-Ch. 44: Like a new school Buffy the Vampire Slayer, this show somehow combines the cheeky satire of a 20-something slacker's life in a dead-end job with the adventure of that kid discovering he's the devil's son, forced to become a bounty hunter of souls escaped from hell.

TiVo or Ti-NO? I'm digging the show's second season twist, which finds bounty hunter Sam chasing a soul who somehow slipped out of his deal with the devil to learn how he did it.

10 p.m. MONDAY

SAVING GRACE on TNT: In case a series on a near-burnout Oklahoma homicide detective with a guardian angel linking her to a murderer on death row seemed too realistic, producers added professional waif Christina Ricci to Holly Hunter's outlandish cop series. Ricci plays a single mom struggling to prove herself as new partner to Hunter's Grace Hanadarko; you will spend much of this episode wondering when the Oklahoma City police decided to start recruiting at high schools.

TiVo or Ti-NO? This show always feels like two series crammed into one; a quirky heartland police procedural on one end and a weirdly spiritual drama on the other. Mostly makes me long for the simplicity of a Law & Order rerun.

Spring brings fresh television 03/02/09 [Last modified: Monday, March 2, 2009 8:58am]

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