A Solid 'Escape'

TNT kicks off a new reality competition Sunday night at 10 p.m. with the debut of "The Great Escape."

If it feels a lot like "The Amazing Race," it shouldn't be a surprise since both shows were co-created by Bertram Van Muster.

But "Escape" also pulls from the great UK show, "Now Get Out of That," by imprisoning three teams of two in a structure and forcing them to solve physical and mental challenges while avoiding "guards" who patrol the area.

Unlike "Race," the winner is decided by the end of the episode. The first episode, in which three teams must escape Alcatraz, was OK, but the second episode I saw, in which three different teams try to escape from the USS Hornet, was a lot more tense with a few twists along the way.

Rich Eisen, the former ESPN anchor, serves as host and the show moves along at a brisk pace. Like "Race," the teams often shoot themselves in the foot by making dumb mental errors, but because each episode is self-contained, we don't get to know the teams in the same intimate way we do on "Race."

Still, it's pretty enjoyable summer fare that is worth an hour of your time.

THURSDAY'S BEST BETS: "Wilfred" was one of TV's most offbeat comedies last year, and it returns tonight with a new episode (FX, 10:30 p.m.) The series follows a suicidally depressed former attorney (Elijah Wood) who has conversations with his neighbor's dog -- only he sees the dog as a man in a dog suit. Meanwhile, Wilfred the dog gets the guy into all sorts of trouble -- but also brings him out of his shell.

Also on cable is a new "Burn Notice," (USA, 9 p.m.), which adds the always-good John C. McGinley in a recurring role as Michael's former training officer. It's followed by a new "Suits" at 10 p.m.

On the networks, Fox has the reality game shows "Take Me Out" and "The Choice" from 8-10 p.m., while NBC inflicts more Justin Bieber on us at 8 p.m., followed by "Saving Hope" at 9 p.m. There's also Game 5 of the NBA finals tonight at 9 p.m. on ABC.