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Thursday, July 24, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 54.0° F  Fair


The royal wedding takes over American TV
Rule, Britannia!

Credit:Joe Rocco
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The media have already proclaimed the April 29 nuptials of England's Prince William and Kate Middleton "the wedding of the century" (Friday, 4 a.m., NBC, CBS, Fox News, MSNBC, E!, etc.) Apparently there won't be anything to compare to it in the next 89 years, so you'd better pay attention RIGHT NOW, hadn't you? TV is more than happy to help, with frothing-at-the-mouth coverage of this seemingly bland couple and their very undramatic decision to marry after eight years of normal dating.

In 1981, the media went gaga over a similar non-event, the wedding of Prince Charles and Diana Spencer, and you can bet the ante will be upped 30 years later. Expect a commemorative issue of People magazine, souvenir books, a William and Kate TV movie from the Hallmark Channel, and so much American fawning over the British monarchy that the Founding Fathers will surely turn over in their graves.

By the way, don't forget to clip and save this TV blurb it, too, is commemorative.

Parking Wars
Saturday, 9 pm (A&E)

If you haven't been keeping up with the real-life saga of the Philadelphia and Detroit parking enforcers, here's your chance for a crash course. This special features the top 10 nastiest encounters between the officers and the violators, who, as always, just can't accept the fact that they deserve a ticket.

I hope the top 10 includes the encounter in which someone calls an officer a "jerkoff" and insists that the parking meter was "broken." Oh, wait a minute that's every encounter.

Nurse Jackie
Monday, 9 pm (Showtime)

Almost nothing happens in this week's episode. Jackie's struggle with substance abuse is pushed to the background, and she does little but attend to daily business at the hospital. So why is the half-hour still so compelling?

Credit Edie Falco's lived-in performance. She communicates weariness, weakness, wittiness and many other subtle qualities characteristic of a normal person trying to get by in the world. Her interactions with other characters feel lived-in, too, as when she talks to her young daughter about a school subject: Lucifer. "God cast him out, but he didn't care," the daughter says. "He still wanted to be God, so he made himself God of hell."

As an addict, Jackie knows a little something about hell, so her ironic answer contains sinister depths: "And they all lived happily ever after."

Love Games: Bad Girls Need Love Too
Monday, 9 pm (Oxygen)

If you happen to be channel-surfing past Oxygen tonight, you'll hear swearing, squealing and other horrible sounds emanating from your TV. The network has gathered the most unappealing people in the United States - yes, an even less civilized crew than the Real Housewives - to backstab and harass one another. And, ultimately, to fall in love.

Some icky Bad Girls from previous seasons are presented with a bunch of guys to fight over. "If they want a whore, I guess Lea is the one for them," sneers Natalie, right after she herself has made out with each and every one of the guys. The prospective boyfriends are cut from the same cloth. "Nice boobs - who wouldn't want to grab those?" asks one chivalrous suitor upon meeting Amber.

It's all in good fun, I suppose, unless two of these specimens actually do fall in love and, gulp, mate. Do you really want to unleash such unholy offspring on the world, Oxygen?

Glamour Belles
Wednesday, 9 pm (Lifetime)

This reality series is set in a Tennessee dress shop called Joann's Gowns, specializing in pageant gowns. Owner Paige radiates confidence: "Picking a winning pageant dress is a talent, and it's a talent I'm blessed with…. You don't come to me for second place." It's amazing how emotional things can get in front of the mirror as women weep, scream and break down over various bits of fabric.

To me, it all seems slightly silly, though I do admit to tearing up a little over a white stretch taffeta with a mermaid bottom, sweetheart neckline and rosettes.

Thursday, 10 pm (Showtime)

Showtime takes advantage of its premium-cable status to produce a reality series you'd never see without a monthly subscription. Gigolos follows a group of hunky male escorts who compete with one another in Las Vegas. These studs make as much as $5,000 for a weekend, and they're definitely worth it. How do I know that? Because Gigolos goes right into the hotel rooms to show what happens after the money changes hands.

But don't think that this is simply hardcore pornography. Like any good reality series, it gets to know the subjects, and some of them are surprisingly thoughtful about their profession. "Just like a child, you are fully engaged in the moment, not judging it, not being self-conscious around it, and not really even being aware of yourself in it," says Jimmy.

You could tune in for such insightful meditations or, I suppose, for the hot, bare-naked sex. Your choice.

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