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Monday, September 1, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 77.0° F  Mostly Cloudy
Arts
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Nerds battle for supremacy in Best Player
Game on
on
The world's most likeably clueless manchild.
The world's most likeably clueless manchild.

You will be tempted to bypass Best Player (Saturday, 7 p.m.) because it is a kids' movie on Nickelodeon. Do not, I repeat do not, make this mistake. The tale of an overgrown videogame champion (Jerry Trainor) attempting to undercut his embarrassingly young and female rival (Jennette McCurdy) is one of the funniest things I've seen on TV this season. It features expert farce, a pitch-perfect satire of the gaming world, and a deliciously awkward romance. The latter includes such classic lines as: "I love her so much I could barf my heart out."

Trainor's Quincy is a twentysomething slacker who still lives with his parents, conquering the videogame world in their basement. Then comes McCurdy's Chris, a high school girl with the skills to beat him in a high-stakes tournament. Quincy decides to subvert Chris by dating her beautiful mom, then impersonating her home-economics teacher, then hooking her up with the school nerd and believe it or not, each of these developments makes sense in the movie's absurd universe. In his Keanu Reeves haircut, Trainor puts over the gags with rubber-faced genius, creating the world's most likeably clueless manchild.

"Teaching is exhausting," he says of his home-ec gig. "You have to know things, which is very difficult for me."

I love Best Player so much I could barf my heart out.

Women in Science
Sunday, 7 pm (Smithsonian Channel)

Watching a series like Women in Science reminds you that, contrary to what you normally see on TV, not all women are sex objects, airheads or biggest losers. Even when TV shows do present a smart professional woman, they usually have to dress her in miniskirts and stiletto heels (see the new Fairly Legal) or make her a clown (see the new Harry's Law). By contrast, Women in Science offers a rare portrayal of real women doing important work. Glamour is refreshingly irrelevant to this week's subject, Dr. Jo Gayle Howard, who has pioneered a method for saving endangered species through an artificial insemination technique.

A relatively small number of people will see the series on the low-profile Smithsonian Channel, but maybe that's for the best. If it ran on a more popular cable channel, Dr. Howard would need to be portrayed by Heather Locklear in a tight blouse and fishnet stockings.

Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2
Sunday, 8 pm (ABC Family)

No, one live-action movie about talking chihuahuas in affluent L.A. was not enough. In the sequel, Papi (voiced by George Lopez) and Chloe (voiced by Odette Yustman) get married and have puppies. The puppies inherit their parents' talent for crude jokes, delivered with moving mouths that don't quite match the dialogue.

But who am I to judge? As guest critic, I brought in my own poodle, who can usually tell a good dog from a bad dog. She immediately peed on the carpet.

To be fair, however, she always does that. So I guess the verdict on Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2 is still unclear.

Breakout Kings
Sunday, 9 pm (A&E)

Fox reportedly had a shot at this cop series and passed, consigning it to cable. That's hard to imagine, since Breakout Kings is one of the best new series in recent memory.

It's based on the premise that everybody deserves a second chance. A U.S. marshal creates a special task force to catch escaped convicts, consisting of a disgraced cop and three colorful prisoners who know a little something about jailbreaks themselves. For every fugitive they catch, the prisoners get a month knocked off their sentences.

That might not be the world's most original premise, but the execution is flawless, with brilliant writing and acting. The tone is generally droll, but there's also plenty of excitement as the team pursues its runners. Car chases, gun battles, wisecracks, con games, sex for once, all those elements combine into a compelling package.

Whoever passed on Breakout Kings at Fox should be fired immediately. Everybody deserves a second chance except that chump.

All About Aubrey
Monday, 9 pm (Oxygen)

This is one of those end-of-civilization-as-we-know-it reality series, focusing on a fame-obsessed nincompoop named Aubrey O'Day. Someone felt that the foulmouthed would-be entertainer deserved an hour of our attention every week, as she attempts act two in a career that has included stints in Playboy and a manufactured MTV band called Danity Kane. We are asked to watch Aubrey talk dirty to her dogs, cry about her difficult life in an L.A. mansion, and tell everyone within earshot to "stop treating me like a ho!"

Perhaps the show's most pernicious element, for any impressionable girls who might tune in, is its obsession with toned, sexy Aubrey's supposed weight problem. Everyone in her life, from managers to dance coaches, tells her she needs to lose 10 pounds.

I think it'd be better if she lost 60 minutes, on a weekly basis.

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