As folks spend more time on computers and less time in front of the TV, the networks are racing to create original programming for their Web sites. None of it has made much of an impression, but "InTurn" might change all that. Last summer, CBS's Web-only reality series followed eight beautiful young actors competing for a contract on the CBS soap opera "As the World Turns." Now, CBS adds an episode of "InTurn" to its broadcast schedule (Friday, 11:30 a.m., CBS), hoping to lure Web fans to its on-air programming and TV fans to its Web programming. Does synergy get any more diabolical?
In a stroke of genius, "InTurn" makes the soap-opera competition into a soap opera itself. The contestants are as passionate, sneaky, arrogant, conflicted and vengeful as any characters on "As the World Turns," and the on-air episode immediately sucks you into the psychodrama. Ian is the villain, a fiendishly handsome jerk who'll sabotage his rivals any way he can. Alex is the innocent, Marjorie the she-devil who gets her way with tears and tantrums.
"I hate him so much!" Alex says of Ian.
"You don't exist to me," Marjorie bluntly tells a female competitor.
"This is really going to make me seem like an asshole," Ian says, gloating in mid-stratagem.
Double-crosses, lies, insults, catfights - anyone with good sense or good taste will want to give "InTurn" a wide berth. My readers, on the other hand, will surely want the URL.
UK Music Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony
Saturday, 8 pm (VH1)
The annual ceremony features Joss Stone, Patti LaBelle, Wolfmother and others performing tributes to inductees George Martin and Led Zeppelin.
Wait a minute. It's 2006, and the UK Music Hall of Fame is just now getting around to George Martin and Led Zeppelin? Unless the Hall began by inducting Druids, then progressed through the King Arthur era and Henry VIII's reign, this strikes me as a wee bit tardy.
March of the Penguins
Saturday, 8 pm (Hallmark Channel)
My son always asks me for a piece of candy, and I always say no. That came to mind as I watched March of the Penguins, which has its TV premiere on the Hallmark Channel. Antarctica's emperor penguins never say no to their offspring. On the contrary, they do absolutely anything for them. The males sit on the eggs for months in 80-below temperatures. The females waddle 70 miles to the ocean and back to bring the babies food. They brave predators and howling winds, often dying in the attempt to keep the young ones happy.
Please excuse me. I'm off to the candy store. In Montana. On foot.
Tuesday, 8 pm (ABC)
In this new series, a control-freak girl (Marla Sokoloff) is marrying an immature guy (Josh Cooke). She's the sort who obsesses over what kind of salad to serve at their wedding. He's the sort who has a personal theme song - from the TV show "What's Happening!!" - and insists that it be played as the processional.
"Big Day" sounds like a typical TV farce. And it is, with one difference: Everything works. Each character is played by a comic pro, and the script is a well-oiled machine. "Big Day" is so good that I'm considering changing my own personal theme song to "What's Happening!!" (It had been "The Flintstones.")
Tuesday, 9 pm (TBS)
Guys like sports shows; gals like dating shows. Therefore, logic suggests that guys and gals will like shows about both sports and dating. But screw logic, because nobody will like the drab new comedy "My Boys."
PJ (Jordana Spiro) is the kind of single woman common on dating shows. Her pals are the kinds of wisecracking slobs common on sports shows. PJ is a baseball reporter herself, and she's given to describing life in sports terms.
"The reason I like sports is that you know where you stand," she says. "Someone wins, someone loses."
"My Boys" loses. So at least we know where we stand.
Christmas in Rockefeller Center
Wednesday, 7 pm (NBC)
The annual telecast features the famous Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, along with performances by Christina Aguilera, Taylor Hicks, John Legend and Lionel Richie.
I'd love to get a glimpse of incurable belters Aguilera and Hicks chatting backstage. Are they capable of normal speech, or do they communicate with one another via howls and bleats, their heads thrown back and arms flailing?
Thursday, 8 pm (Fox)
Beautiful people break up, make up and work on their tans. As much as you want to make fun of "The O.C.," you can't - the show has already done it for you.
In this week's delightfully self-parodic episode, Summer (Rachel Bilson) is torn between her old shopaholic lifestyle and the community activism she's picked up at college. Her new do-gooder side shocks boyfriend Seth (Adam Brody) when he comes for a visit. Summer is obsessed with a campus protest, to the point where she can't even enjoy a frivolous prime-time soap opera on TV. "I don't like this show anymore," she tells Seth. "All they do is create fake problems for fake people to distract viewers from the real problems in the world."
That's "The O.C." - a frivolous prime-time soap opera itself - having a little fun at its own expense. If you're tempted to turn it off so you can concentrate on all the real problems in the world, you're made of sterner stuff than I.