1 of 2
Giovanni Rufino, The CW
Leighton Meester and Ed Westwick star in The CW's "Gossip Girl."

"Gossip Girl" has become a teenage "Dynasty."

Incredibly good-looking, incredibly rich people live in fabulous houses, attend lavish parties, pose prettily, have convoluted love lives (and, in some cases, indiscriminate sex) and get involved with nobility.

I won't give away too much on the whole nobility thing, but there hasn't been anything quite this silly in quite this vein since Amanda Carrington (Catherine Oxenberg) married a prince (Michael Praed) from Moldavia (which wasn't really an independent country, by the way) way back in 1985.

Not that there's anything wrong with over-the-top soap opera, which can be good, campy fun. But the show seems to have gone waaaay over the top this season in comparison to the more down-to-earth over-the-topness of Season 1.

In tonight's second-season premiere (7 p.m., Ch. 30), Serena (Blake Lively) and Nate (Chace Crawford) are hanging out in the Hamptons, pretending to be a couple, but Nate is really involved with an older married woman (guest star Madchen Amick). Meanwhile, Dan (Penn Badgley) is dating every female in sight to get over his break-up with Serena. And he's ticking off real-life famous author Jay McInerney (played by, well, McInerney), for whom he's working.

Real-life socialite Tinsley Mortimer (played by, well, Mortimer) is also on hand to help Jenny (Taylor Momsen) show up her boss.

Meanwhile, Blair (Leighton Meester) comes home from Europe with a hot guy (Patrick Heusinger) in tow, intending to make Chuck (Ed Westwick) regret standing her up last spring.

But the big news is that Chuck is combing his hair differently!

Judging by the first three episodes of Season 2, "Gossip Girl" has already hit the sophomore slump.

Because of the age of most of the characters, "GG" draws its fair share of criticism. The fact is that this show doesn't have any more sex, drinking and drug use than your average daytime soap — but these are underage high school kids.

And, while not any more graphic than other shows, it is worse when it's clear exactly what sex act a teenage boy character and the older woman are going to participate in just after we cut to another scene.

A year ago, I wrote that parents will want to pay attention to the content of "Gossip Girl" before deciding if their kids should be allowed to watch. Close attention.

That warning still applies. If anything, it's stronger now.

· · · · ·

If "Jump The Shark" weren't already a part of the television vernacular, maybe we'd have to come up with an expression like "That show has a head in a box."

An anti-tribute, as it were, to the remarkably ridiculous "Prison Break."

("Jump the Shark," drawn from an episode of "Happy Days" in which Fonzie jumped over a shark tank on his motorcycle, signifies the moment at which a TV show stops being worth watching.)

"Prison Break" — which airs a two-hour, fourth-season premiere at 7 p.m. on Ch. 13 — was pretty darn good in its first season. Quite exciting and sort of mysterious.

Not only were the main characters trying to escape from a maximum security prison, but there was a plot involving the vice president of the United States, who became the president when she had her predecessor assassinated.

Pretty cool.

Until the writers suddenly decided to turn the show on its ear, get rid of the whole president thing and move in another direction. Season 2 quickly became boring when it wasn't stupid.

And then, in Season 3, the producers/writers killed off Sara (Sarah Wayne Callies). She was not only dead, she was REAL dead. Her head was in a box, for heck's sake.

And this was not a matter of interpretation. The show's producers CONFIRMED that that was indeed Sara's head in the box. Meaning that she was dead. REAL dead.

Only not any more. Sara is returning to the show in the new season. And the producers' explanation pretty much amounts to — "Aw, we were just kidding."

I couldn't make this up if I tried.

As for Michael (Wentworth Miller), you may recall that he's covered with tattoos — part of his plan to break his brother out of prison in Season 1. Well, going through all that makeup is a pain, so — poof! — the tattoos are going to disappear this season.

Because we all know how it doesn't take months and months of laser treatments to remove just one tattoo. Because we're as stupid as the producers of this show think we are.

Hey, let's prove we're NOT as stupid as they think we are. Let's all stop watching "Prison Break" and then it will go away.

· · · · ·

Speaking of shows that jumped the shark a long time ago, tonight it's the sixth-season premiere of "One Tree Hill" (8 p.m., Ch. 30).

Wow. Even incredibly crummy shows can last six seasons.

Like "Prison Break," this is a show that had a very promising first season but then descended into stupidity and sheer insanity. None of the characters seem real; none of the situations are believable.

Last spring's Big Cliffhanger involved Lucas (Chad Michael Murray), Brooke, (Sophia Bush) Peyton (Hilarie Burton) and Lindsay (Michaela McManus). Lucas called one of them and asked her to marry him ... but we don't know which one.

Fans will find out tonight.

Ho, hum.

We do know that, if he happened to call Lindsay, she either won't say yes or they won't live happily ever after. Because we do know that McManus is headed for "Law & Order," where she'll play the new assistant district attorney.

Lucky her. She managed to escape from "One Tree Hill."


E-mail: pierce@desnews.com