Our weekly feature, “Why You Should Watch,” recommends shows that can and should fit into any TV viewers’ busy schedule, but may have fallen into their DVR blind spot or been less well-publicized than your average network sitcom or premium-cable drama.
Last week, we went under the covers with Showtime’s seedy male-escort reality series “Gigolos.” Today, we point our remotes toward Turner Entertainment’s truTV network, and its gritty glimpse at various Las Vegas troublemakers in “Las Vegas Jailhouse.”
WHY YOU PROBABLY AREN’T WATCHING “LAS VEGAS JAILHOUSE”: Because one glance probably indicates it’s a trashy, scary, inexplicably entertaining exhibition of our culture’s basest instincts and the need to capture them on film for ratings.
WHY YOU SHOULD BE WATCHING “LAS VEGAS JAILHOUSE”: See above. Also, it’s essentially a reboot of the similarly captivating “Jail” (reruns of that 2007 series still air on Spike and can be seen here), which was likewise produced by John Langley, who also developed “COPS” with his father Morgan. Equally gripping, but more somber, prison shows including “Lockup” and “Lockdown” (no need to be coy with these titles, we guess) tend to focus on the struggles of long-term incarceration. “Las Vegas Jailhouse,” like its fellow Langley productions, is more concerned with a bird’s eye view into the world of petty crime, the police who act as wranglers for drunken miscreants and the often-humiliating, occasionally violent atmosphere inside county lockup. And it also happens to make for incredible binge-viewing on rainy days or weekends in. A typical episode of “Jailhouse,” which may feature everyone from delirious elderly stoners to psychotic young drug addicts requiring time in the ominous restraining chair, is like “Oz” without the pretension or bonus footage from outrageous “COPS” pursuits.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TO GET STARTED WITH “LAS VEGAS JAILHOUSE”: You’ll need a shower worse than these inmates after watching, because this is trashy TV in its purest, most opportunistic form. Although, it may serve as a wake-up call for teenage kids acting out, which is more than you can say for “The Bachelor” or “Jersey Shore.”
In the latest episode below, an inmate gets a case of the munchies after swallowing his entire stash of drugs; a 72-year-old Don Rickles look-alike has a unique excuse for why he was selling weed to teenagers; and a woman charged with attacking her landlord fakes an illness.
“Las Vegas Jailhouse” (truTV, Sundays at 930/830c)