THE SHOW "Extreme Cheapskates"

WHEN | WHERE Wednesday night at 9 on TLC

REASON TO WATCH For those looking for new ways to save on (umm) toilet paper.

WHAT IT'S ABOUT Ah, the cheapskate. He or she is always restlessly prowling for a wayward penny, or views the empty soda can not as a recyclable, but as a nickel. But what of the extreme cheapskate?

Meet Roy Haynes of Vermont, who goes from restaurant to restaurant to find ketchup packets, and Dumpster-dives for dead roses as a gift for his wife on their wedding anniversary. Or the mother of six who enlists reusable (yes, ugh, reusable) cloth bits in lieu of toilet paper. Or the gentleman from Maryland who scarfs for pennies -- enough to buy skinned goat heads from a butcher for a very special dinner. Extreme cheapskates all.

MY SAY Extreme behavior can sometimes veer into "clinical" territory, treatable only by therapy, meds or a combination of both. But there's nothing to suggest that those profiled here are anything but happy or -- even in their own wacky way -- fulfilled. They are penny-pinchers on steroids who see nothing wrong, or disgusting, in pursuit of zero-base parsimony. It's a mind-set that says any dime that hasn't been spent is a dime that's been saved -- and save enough dimes and you've got a dollar!

advertisement | advertise on newsday

They are all minimalists with a maximalist life philosophy: All those dimes saved over enough years will turn into thousands of dollars saved. Live a long-enough life, you've saved a fortune. Of course, the flip side -- which none seem to acknowledge -- is that you've also led a debased one. These nice people of course don't see it that way, and that's the spirit -- if you have the stomach for it -- in which one should approach "Extreme Cheapskates."

Our cheapies here are not victims of the economy; they barely acknowledge it. They simply are reveling in their austerity. Their behavior doesn't harm anyone and is, of course, often funny. But they also take the attitude that the joke's on you. After all -- they have the dime, you don't.

BOTTOM LINE No good tips for the cheapskate in all of us are offered here -- an understatement -- and most of this behavior comes under the heading "Life's Too Short." But this one-time special is still a hoot.