What makes summer special? Is it the cleansing power of sunshine? Or is it a TV show about Paula Abdul's complicated relationship with her stylist? Shame on you for even asking. This is the one time of year when quality entertainment means digging deep into the reject vaults and unloading the most lamentably, pathetically, soul-cornholingly bad ideas onto the American public. So what will be this summer's Pants-Off Dance-Off?
Hey Paula (Bravo, Thursday, 10 p.m.): Because you're not miserable enough, the powers that be have heard your pleas for a more intimate view into the lives of the four Abdul Chihuahuas (Bessie Moo, Chomps, Thumbelina and Tulip) and their high-on-life human mistress.
Fast Cars and Superstars: Gillette Young Guns Celebrity Race (ABC, Thursday, 8 p.m.): A very strange mix of celebrities, athletes and William Shatner hits the stock-car tracks. If Shatner crashes, and Jewel, Tony Hawk and Laird Hamilton all join hands around the flaming wreckage to sing "Rocket Man," it still couldn't justify the existence of this show.
I Know Who Killed Me: Part Citizen Kane, part Swimfan, this may be the crowning Jager shot in Lindsay Lohan's career cocktail. Has any World's Most Famous Movie Star ever reigned so long without having a recent hit movie? Besides Angelina Jolie?
Ginuwine's "Pony": After all these years, still the summer jam to kill off all other summer jams, dig their graves and lick the shovel. Every day this summer you spend not listening to "Pony" is another day you spend festering in a premature soul-freeze.
Pirate Master (CBS, Thursday, 8 p.m.): Watching sixteen grog-swilling, plank-walking contestants battle it out for buried treasure puts the "ass" in "avast" and the "arrrrr" in "reality show," which is maybe the only "arrrrr" joke they don't use. The brilliant thing about this series is how seriously everybody takes it — these buttock-caneers really want to be the best pirates they can be, although they don't keelhaul a single person. Next summer: Plane-Crash Cannibals!
Rihanna, "Umbrella": The girl from Barbados dresses up like Karen O, sings like the Cranberries, tweaks the dumbest vaginal metaphor since "Sugar Walls" and rocks the Underoos off everything else on the radio. I keep meaning to play that Arcade Fire album, honest, but Rihanna won't let me close my umbrella!
American Gladiator reruns on ESPN Classic: Have you checked this out lately? Bill Clinton's favorite show was years ahead of its time — all they need to do now is bring it back with celebrities. Lindsay and Dina Lohan face off in a Swingshot match? The dream is now.