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Some people call it rubbernecking, but I prefer to think of it as reflecting. With Labor Day just around the corner, it’s time to take one last, twisted peek back at the summer’s biggest TV wrecks.

America’s Got Talent



Whether it was the gypsy couple acting out a love triangle with a donkey or a man trying to insert himself into a giant balloon only to inadvertently pop it, this hapless search for “talent” scanned more like a national cry for help. Grumpy judge David Hasselhoff, who’d put up with a car talking back to him but wasn’t about to take smack from Brandy, bitched all summer long about how Moesha kept pressing his buzzer and how he was meant for greater things than this. But in the end, it was the “Night Rocker” himself who walked away with the freak show’s only real prize: a rescue from oblivion.

How to Get the Guy



Can four single chicks teetering on the shady side of thirty—“The Dreamer,” “The Girl Next Door,” “The Career Girl,” and “The Party Girl”—find love in an urban jungle teeming with miscreants and homosexuals? Fat chance. But ABC made them try anyway, giving us only four episodes of this low-rated pity party before relegating its subjects to spinsterhood. Alas, we’ll never know if massage therapist Alissa fell for the guy who gave us summer’s most memorable pickup line: “You ever get some big fat dude laying on the table and you have to give him a happy ending?”

Mrs. World 2006

Broadcast future uncertain


The organizers of this low-rent, middle-aged beauty pageant saved a few rubles by ditching the translators, then watched in horror as a confused Mrs. World 2005 crowned the wrong successor. It was up to low-rent, middle-aged host Alan Thicke to try to reenact the whole fiasco, this time with the real winner. Which raised the question: If you’ve hired Alan Thicke to host your show, why do you need to save any more money?

Tuesday Night Book Club



A lonely housewife who can’t get her husband to shtup her, an alcoholic’s missus who shares her bed with a pet skunk, and a swingin’ gal whose hubby wagers her in a game of rock, paper, scissors. These are just three of the train wrecks at the heart of Tuesday Night Botox—er, Book Club, CBS’s reality shlockfest about a group of vapid lady “friends” and their supposed reading circle. Too bad that a) reporters sniffed out that the bosomed buddies were actually strangers, b) none seemed particularly capable of—much less interested in—reading, and c) nobody in America gave a shit anyway. CBS yanked the show after only two episodes, presumably nixing the spinoff, A Bridge Club Too Far.

The View



“And then there were three,” intoned Babwa Wawa, surveying carnage not seen on ABC since the network premiere of Saving Private Ryan. Exiting co-host Meredith Viera’s long march toward Today had set off a round of infighting vicious enough to make even the Greatest Generation wince. When the smoke finally cleared, Star Jones Reynolds lay toppled, Walters herself lay trumped, and, worst of all, Rosie O’Donnell lay waiting to return to television. Still standing amid the wreckage: Elisabeth Hasselbeck, the unsinkable right-wing reality vet who proved that nothing prepares a gal for the The View’s front lines like a season on Survivor. —Mario Correa