HBO stoops with `Family Bonds'

Television

September 19, 2004|By Tom Jicha | Tom Jicha,SOUTH FLORIDA SUN-SENTINEL

Et tu, HBO?

The nation's premium channel titan has commendably refrained from the rush to reality.

This is not to say that HBO hasn't done its share of verite video shows.

The titillating Real Sex, Taxicab Confessions and G-String Divas fit within the genre. But they play in late night and are not series in the conventional sense.

However, with Family Bonds, HBO descends into the muck that is tarnishing prime-time television.

It's interesting that the documentary-style exploits of a family of bail bondsmen is making its debut tonight opposite the Emmys, traditionally HBO's proudest night. It's astute counter-programming. The target audience isn't those who watch class acts like "The Sopranos." It's more the "Cops" crowd.

Tom Evangelista got out of the life-insurance business about seven years ago to become someone who posts bail for defendants lacking the wherewithal to open the jailhouse door.

It's not easy money.

Some clients go on the lam rather than face the music. This is when Tom has to turn bounty hunter. If he doesn't bring the accused back, he's stuck for the bail.

He does all this with the help of his family.

The Evangelistas are a colorful bunch. They're also crude, profane, unsophisticated and seriously overweight. If they were not the stars of this show, they would be the target audience.

Family Bonds turns a marketing slogan upside down: This isn't HBO, it's TV.

The South Florida Sun Sentinel is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

`Family Bonds'

Where: HBO

When: Tonight at 10

In brief: Chasing bail jumpers as a family affair.

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