Oxygen Monday, Aug. 7 (9 p.m.)
Oxygen’s new reality movie Fight Girls has guts. The film chronicles the stories of eight women training with Muy Thai boxing champion Master Toddy for a chance at a championship fight in Thailand, where the 1,000 year-old sport originated.
Executive-produced by Scott Messick and Tom Weber of Mess Media (Survivor), the special goes from a mundane look at a small group of American women at a gym in Las Vegas to a scrappy, gritty look at what it takes to come out on the winning side of a difficult and damaging process.
Through the selection of the three that get to compete to their training of these selectees, this special gives an entertaining and introspective look at the deadly sport. — Melanie M. Clarke
Gene Simmons’ Family Jewels
A&E Network Monday, Aug, 7 (10 p.m. ET/PT)
A&E Network’s Gene Simmons’ Family Jewels is the latest foray into that parallel universe where “reality” is usually followed by the word “TV” and every family, no matter how different, is the same deep down — just not really.
Jewels — a kind of Father Knows Best, in which dad happens to be a “tongue-wagging demon” — follows Simmons, co-founder of the rock band KISS, and his clan (former Playboy Playmate Shannon Tweed, to whom he’s been happily unmarried for more than two decades, and their two children) as they go about their everyday lives.
Simmons’ on-air persona is amusing enough, but the domestic “hijinks” in the episodes reviewed — mom turns the table on dad when he tries to throw her a surprise party; well-intentioned dad embarrasses his son; mom wants dad to lose some weight – are surprisingly tame and conservative. Hardly what you’d expect from a guy who wears makeup and spits blood for a living. — George Vernadakis
The Ron Clark Story
Turner Network Television Sunday, Aug. 13 (8 p.m. ET/PT)
Ordinary people making extraordinary differences doesn’t always make for extraordinary TV drama. The Ron Clark Story is based on the true story of a North Carolina teacher (Friends’ Matthew Perry) who moved to New York to teach in a Harlem public school where he was able to significantly improve students’ test scores.
Directed by Randa Haines (Children of a Lesser God), the movie aims to inspire, but its formulaic staging and clichéd dialogue undermine any attempt to strike a genuine emotional chord. And Perry’s portrayal of Clark is good-natured but, like the movie overall, limited in conveying the qualities that would make a teacher command these kids’ attention and respect. — George Vernadakis