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On The Tube

Spreading the wealth

7/30/2014

RichKidsIn the reality series “#RichKids of Beverly Hills,” the rich kids aren’t icky in that Kardashian way (Sunday, 9 p.m., E!). They’re smart and self-aware, even self-mocking at times. As a result, you don’t laugh at them, but with them. It’s fun to hang out with Dorothy, Morgan, EJ and the gang as they make snarky conversation, take ironic selfies and, in the second-season premiere, plan a fabulous trip to China. Season two also delves into real emotions as Dorothy tries to make sense of her relationship with reluctant boyfriend Cooper.

Meanwhile, the screen fills with social-media-style graphics and sound effects as the friends obsessively text each other, finding the perfect hashtag for every occasion. I’d call “#RichKids of Beverly Hills” a guilty pleasure, but the series is so fun that I feel no guilt whatsoever. #WelcomeToAugust

“The Honourable Woman”

Thursday, 9 p.m. (Sundance Channel)

“We all have secrets. We all tell lies,” coos the narrator in the languid opening sequence of this new miniseries. As if in a dream, we watch a man assassinated by a waiter in a luxurious dining room with his two young children by his side.

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Fast forward 29 years. The children have grown up and taken over their father’s business in London: supplying arms to Israel. It’s the kind of work that can get a Jewish zealot killed, but the kids have changed the focus to reconciling Israelis and Palestinians. Nessa (Maggie Gyllenhaal) is the brains of the operation, a smart, driven, articulate woman who has just been appointed to the House of Lords. She has many enemies, though, from Israelis to Palestinians to English protesters.

Dreaminess and menace are the keynotes of this eight-part spy thriller. Director Hugo Blick is an esthete with a taste for fluttering white curtains and mournful violin music, but he also hooks you with potboiler elements like kidnappings and suicides.

“Urban Jungle”

Sunday, 7 p.m. (National Geographic Channel)

This miniseries preys on our paranoia about deadly creatures encroaching on our cities and suburbs. We watch footage of snakes, scorpions, bats and even leopards sneaking ever closer to humans. “Could they be coming for us?” the narrator asks ominously. “Urban Jungle” unexpectedly changes tone at the end of the first episode, during footage of a sad little sloth trapped in traffic in Rio de Janeiro. The narrator notes that thousands of species go extinct every year, trying to enlist our sympathy.

I’d be a lot more sympathetic if the series hadn’t scared me silly during the previous 55 minutes. By portraying these critters as out to get us, “Urban Jungle” makes extinction seem like an attractive option.

“Bachelor in Paradise”

Monday, 7 p.m. (ABC)

ABC rounds up a bunch of contestants from “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” and plops them on a beautiful beach in Mexico, where they once again look for true love with photogenic strangers. Expect hookups, breakdowns and lots of explosive fights — in other words, everything we’ve come to expect from this franchise, but with fewer clothes.

I’d actually welcome insane, weird or bizarre plot twists, but “Bachelor in Paradis”e is really the same-old same-old. Mind you, I’m not complaining. If even one bikini-clad hottie convinces herself that she’s found a soul mate in a bare-chested beefcake, I’m going to root for their romance. In August, I’ll root for anything that’s not a rerun. CV

Dean Robbins is a syndicated TV columnist from Madison, Wis. He graduated from Grinnell College. See more of his work at www.thedailypage.com.

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