A trio of new shows 



9 p.m. Thursdays

The Discovery Channel

Look, unless you smoke enough to give yourself lung cancer, get shot by some nefarious nogoodnik you're forced to buy it from, or get beat up in jail after being arrested for having it, smoking pot is probably not going to hurt you. Forget what Nancy Reagan said. Pot does some semi-cool things to your consciousness for awhile, makes you wanna eat your weight in tacos, but it isn't that dangerous unless you operate heavy machinery or giggle yourself to death. Even so, America has been having a shit-fit over ol' Mary Jane for nearly 100 years now, tying up police and courts, breaking down doors in the middle of the night to arrest Harold and Kumar, and generally acting like weed isn't around five million times less destructive to lives and families than alcohol. Even if you don't buy that marijuana should be available for recreational use, studies show that most Americans are down for medical marijuana. While many states are on board, the federal government is standing pat, periodically swooping down on and dismantling medical marijuana clinics. In its new series "Weed Wars," Discovery Channel steps to the front lines of the battle between Johnny Law and Doctor Pot, detailing day-to-day operations at Oakland's Harborside Health Center. With 95,000 customers, Harborside is the largest medical marijuana clinic in the world, and owner Steve DeAngelo moves weed in tonnage quantities and dozens of potencies, all while waiting for the feds to bust down the door and arrest his whole staff at any minute. Should make for some interesting television, no matter where you come down on the issue.


8 p.m. Sunday


... and while I've got my culture-wars soapbox out: What is it with folks taking virginity to extremes? I'm not talking about "I'm 17 and I've never gone all the way with a boy." I'm talking: "I'm 32 and have been engaged for three years, but I'm saving not only my naughty bits but my first kiss for my wedding night." First of all, let me just say that I'd like somebody to show me where the Bible says you can't even kiss before marriage. Second: while I personally think the whole virgin-until-your-wedding-night thing sounds like a great recipe for misery — buy a car without a test drive or two, and you probably deserve to get a lemon — I'm cool with it. Your body, your rules has to apply to all, even those who want their honeymoon to be filled with the most awkward and unfulfilling sex imaginable. That said, I never ever want to be in a room with somebody who wants to gush to me how dreamy it will be to lock lips for the first time AFTER the only way out is to hire a lawyer. Luckily, TLC has a plan to keep me far away from those with minty-fresh genitalia with their new show, "Virgin Diaries." Here, young couples and singles who have chosen to keep themselves pure until marriage talk about navigating the treacherous waters of Blue Ball Lagoon with Jesus as their silent wingman. Sounds like it'll be fun for an episode or two, and maybe longer if some of them have a horizontal failure of willpower.


8 p.m. Mondays

The Travel Channel

I've been a fan of chef, writer, culinary philosopher and all-around coolest mf'er on the planet Anthony Bourdain for years now. Through the magic of television and Bourdain's show "No Reservations," I've been all over the world with him, from eating pizza in New York to scarfing down fermented shark steeped in permafrost in Iceland. He's been pretty much everywhere and seen everything. The issue with that show is that, unless you're on a trust fund, it's not really that realistic to follow in his footsteps. Also, because of Bourdain's obsessive need to show "The Real," "No Reservations" can be a little exclusionary, favoring out-of-the-way places over cities in a lot of cases. Almost everybody has been stuck in an airport, however, and that universal experience forms the core of his new show, The Layover, which is built around exactly what it sounds like: a flight layover of 24-48 hours in an unfamiliar city, with Bourdain forced to find his way to The Real with only his wits and the help of a faithful guide. The result is a show that feels a lot more quick and vital than "No Reservations," with less time spent in thoughtful musing and contemplation (which Bourdain admittedly does well), and more time spent on drink, food and highly-caffeinated fun. If you're a fan of "No Reservations," Bourdain, or just great food in exotic locales, this will probably be a sure-fire hit.



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