June 16, 2004 --
THE martians have landed.
That's one way to sum up the reaction of ordinary folk when Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie show up at their door in "The Simple Life 2."
Judging by the gawking that ensues at tollbooths, gas stations and convenience stores, young women who look like Paris and Nicole — women who are all blond hair, miniskirts and makeup — are apparently seldom seen in the nation's heartland.
And that appears to be the sole point of "The Simple Life 2": To observe the reactions of the slack-jawed yokels when they get a load of Paris and Nicole.
In this followup to last season's "Simple Life," Paris and Nicole are traveling cross-country from Miami to Beverly Hills in a pink pickup truck towing an Airstream trailer. They have no cash or credit cards (and Paris has inexplicably left her driver's license at home).
The trip gives them the opportunity for brief stays with multiple hosts in a number of rural locations, instead of setting up housekeeping with just one family.
In tonight's premiere, they get as far as central Florida, where they are the guests of the Battens, the residents and proprietors of a small family ranch.
The plot goes like this: Paris and Nicole shovel manure and then go horseback riding. Paris is thrown and is injured.
And before you know it, the episode has ended — which underscores one of the really great attributes of the half-hour "Simple Life": Each episode is mercifully short.