Tuned In: Let's face it, there's no escape from reality (ow!)

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New scripted series premieres take a break for a few weeks as networks bring on their unscripted wares, including two lighthearted series and one Debbie downer show.

'In the Big House'

There's been chatter in recent months about Logo's change in direction, abandoning its roots as a network targeting gay viewers and moving more in the direction of Bravo. As the New York Post wrote, Logo is going from gay to "gay-ish" in an attempt to woo more straight women.

Given how terrible Logo has been over the years ("A-List," anyone?) this doesn't seem like too great a loss. Of course, it's not necessarily an improvement either.

The new reality show "In the Big House" (10 p.m. Monday, Logo) definitely qualifies as "gay-ish" as it introduces the world to ex-con/former mobster "Big Lou," who now lives with his daughter, Michel, in West Hollywood. They share the house with Michel's husband, Jay, and Lou's gay son, Louis. Lou's ex-wife, Dotsie, lives there, too. Why? Who knows, other than the obvious: It's a story engine for more drama.

This much we learn in the clearly staged opening scene: These folks can't act.

"I'm an ex-mobster getting a fresh start in West Hollywood with my beautiful daughter, my amazing son-in-law, my ex-wife and my gay son. And I run a bar," Lou says, reading from a script.

"You run a gay bar, dad," Michel interjects.

"Why do I gotta be your gay son. I'm your son," Louis complains.

"Wait a minute, I run the bar," Jay says.

"You haven't run anything in 30 years," Dotsie says.

The remainder of the series premiere seems less scripted but no less staged. Dotsie attempts to plan a surprise anniversary party for Michel and Jay at their own restaurant, so of course they get wind of it.

And Louis wants to introduce his on-again, off-again boyfriend, Joey, to his old-school father, who wonders aloud, "Does it bother you, a mustache kissing another mustache?"

In these awkward Lou-Louis exchanges "In the House" feels a little less orchestrated and almost like the sitcom "$#• ! My Dad Says" should have been.

Then there's Lou on his first day of work at family owned gay bar Fubar: "I thought it would have more of a urine smell."

So it's not Aaron Sorkin-level dialogue, but "In the Big House" is entertaining in its ridiculousness.

'I'm Having Their Baby'

There's something unseemly about Oxygen's new one-hour docuseries "I'm Having Their Baby" (11 p.m. Monday). TV series have chronicled adoption stories before, but when all the drama derives from whether the birth mother will go through with the adoption, it turns the show into the most emotionally manipulative competition: Will the adoptive parents win a child or have their dreams crushed? Stay tuned to find out!

In the premiere episode, two moms consider adoption following their unplanned pregnancies. Claudia, who was born in Haiti and was adopted by an American family at age 10, seems steadfast in her belief that adoption is in her own best interest and that of her child. Mary, on the other hand, is a mess.

Mary works at a church and cheated on her husband after he said some unkind things. Now she's pregnant, hoping to reconcile with her husband who wants nothing to do with Mary's child. At first she's game for adoption, but after meeting potential adoptive parents, she reacts negatively to their enthusiasm. She rules them out and then refuses to meet the next prospective parents for her child, which suggests that she's going to change her mind and keep the kid.

It's not fair to judge Mary or any of the other women on this show, but that's what "I'm Having a Baby" encourages. So who does the show benefit other than network bean counters? It's sure to terrify prospective adoptive parents -- for them, "I'm Having Their Baby" is akin to a horror movie.

'WakeBrothers'

Wakeboarding sibling superstars Phil and Bob Soven star in this lighthearted, empty-headed series that chronicles their party-hearty ways. Phil is the older, more accomplished of the brothers; Bob is the too-charming-to-be-bratty, class clown younger brother who's eager to mock his older bro.

With hair like Carrot Top (or Shaun White, who he's often confused with), Bob appears to spend most of his waking hours plotting how to find a woman who will have sex with him. Or he's messing with Phil.

In one scene, Bob steals the sheets off Phil's bed while Phil is in the bed with his girlfriend. Bob then runs around outside the house with the bed sheets for a bit; Phil follows before Bob locks him out of the house.

"WakeBrothers" (11 p.m. Wednesday, MTV) also gets a bit of the "Jackass" vibe going when the brothers build a rail and attempt to do stunts off it, much to their poor mother's chagrin.

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Rob Owen writes this Sunday TV column for Scripps Howard News Service. Contact him at: rowen@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2582. Read the Tuned In Journal blog at post-gazette.com/tv. Follow RobOwenTV on Twitter or Facebook. First Published July 22, 2012 4:00 AM


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