The ugly truth


“Scare Tactics”
Tuesday 9pm, SyFy

This hidden-camera prank show returns just in time for America’s month-long obsession with the spooky. “Scare Tactics” isn’t really the slightest bit scary. Instead, if you enjoy watching other people totally lose their shit, it’s mostly hilarious. Poor, unsuspecting bastards are “volunteered” by their supposed friends to be the subject of “Candid Camera”-style set-ups, but with a science-fiction twist. Previous seasons have featured bits centered around alien abductions, the children of Satan, various psychotic killers and even evil clowns. The fourth season begins tonight with Tracy Morgan back as host, putting him one season up on the series’ previous two hosts, Stephen Baldwin and Shannen Doherty. That line-up is actually more terrifying than any of the set-ups the show concocts.

“Parking Wars”
Tuesday 10pm & 10:30pm, A&E

I’ve had a soft spot for meter maids ever since Jasmine Guy played the sassiest parking cop ever on “Dead Like Me.” I don’t think any of the parking enforcers on this documentary show are secretly grim reapers in disguise, but you never know. “Parking Wars” follows employees of the parking authority in Philadelphia and, new this season, Detroit, as they tool around ticketing, booting and towing illegally parked cars and such. It might not sound interesting, but as A&E’s similar documentary show “Airline” proved, there’s ample drama to be found when people flaunt the rules we all agree to live by, until they end up inconveniencing us. Because most people are assholes.

“Ugly Betty”
Friday 8pm, ABC

This fourth-season premiere is probably a good time to start saying goodbye to Betty Suarez and friends. After a major third-season slump ABC has exiled the once-buzzed-about show to the ratings hinterland that is Friday nights, where viewers only seem to care about sad women who talk to dead people. That can’t be good for a show about a plucky Latina heroine. This season look for Betty to get a makeover—the producers apparently realized how absurd it is that a smart woman who works at a fashion magazine continues to run around wearing Technicolor ponchos and crispy-fried hair—and struggle with her new gig as an associate editor, and for Kristen Johnston (“3rd Rock from the Sun”) to come on board for a few episodes as a grim vision of Amanda’s future—a role that was allegedly first given to Paula Abdul.