Friday nights are so bad that there's a well-researched Wikipedia entry devoted to the death slot. Fox is getting all mavericky and throwing Dollhouse into the mix, assuming the target audience won't have plans tonight.
Dollhouse [9 PM, Fox] - Eliza Dushku stars in and executive produces this new series created by Joss Whedon (Buffy, Angel, other shows that the internet loves). Dushku plays Echo, a woman employed by a company called Dollhouse that erases the minds of its workers, reprograms their personalities to suit the needs of its wealthy clients, supposedly erases them again, and starts over. The "dolls" can play anything from paramour to a lonely dude to a Buffy-like ass-kicker. In tonight's premiere, Echo is assigned as a hostage negotiator so that a businessman doesn't have to go to the police. Meanwhile, an FBI agent's (Tahmoh Penikett) pursuit of the Dollhouse puts him in danger. The previews for Dollhouse show a visual style we can get behind, but our Whedon-humping friends might psyche us out of future viewings for fear of having too much in common with them.
Sports Illustrated Swimsuit 2009 [11:30 PM, TNT] - With NBA All-Star excitement in full swing, this is going to be a big sports weekend on TNT. In a calculated move to keep the male audience tonight, here's a thirty-minute peek at 2009's SI Swimsuit Issue featuring covergirl Bar Refaeli as well as some rookie posers. It almost warms the heart to see that there is still a swimsuit issue, let alone a sports magazine, given that all media will be digital and porn within ten years.
Rob Dyrdek's Fantasy Factory [10 PM, MTV] - This past week's premiere of another MTV series featuring Rob of Rob & Big re-airs tonight. While Big's presence is missed, there is an air of whimsy about the massive warehouse where Rob and his boys indulge their fantasies. Tonight, Lamar Odom of the Lakers visits to discuss a business opportunity and Rob installs a blob indoors. We smiled through the whole episode, so something must be good about it.
20/20: A Hidden America: Children of the Mountains [10 PM, ABC] - Diane Sawyer digs deep this week as she reports on Appalachian poverty by profiling four kids in "the land that time forgot." (We thought that was this one area of rainforest where that tribe has never seen, aw, never mind.) Rocking a puffy coat, she interviews residents in their freezing homes and hears all of the sad stories. ABC is really pushing this piece, but it seems a bit condescending, if you ask us. The problems are real - depression, drug abuse, poor health care - but we hate this "I can't believe this would happen in America" attitude. A lot of messed up stuff goes down in this country and even though there is a city just over the next ridge where these people could live and get proper medical benefits, they choose to live their life this way. Unless this is followed by a very special Extreme Makeover: Home Edition where Ty Pennington razes all of Appalachia and brings in some Sears trucks, this type of exploitation seems too sad to watch.