Most of the time, TV squeezes in programming between the commercials. In the annual 'Victoria's Secret Fashion Show' (Tuesday, 9 p.m.), CBS squeezes in commercials between the commercials. It's one long lingerie ad, with supermodels in spangled bustiers and stiletto heels parading this year's product down the runway. The models give a veritable clinic in pouty come-hither drugged-out vampire dominatrix expressions.
Sounds like harmless fun, you say? It might be if the show stuck with strutting and pouting. But the producers' stated need to do something 'bigger and better' every year gets them into trouble. With bosoms and bangles no longer providing the required frisson, they filled the 2005 show with repulsive imagery. The runway music featured songs about shootings, beatings and death. In one segment, the women came out dressed as soldiers with guns ' a sickening spectacle given the carnage in Iraq. And the whole show was set against the backdrop of teddy bears and toy blocks, making queasy connections between children, violence and sex.
And, of course, this year's show needs to be even 'bigger and better.' What's your guess ' supermodels dressed as Guantanamo detainees?
The Librarian: Return to King Solomon's Mines
Sunday, 7 pm (TNT)
2004's The Librarian was one of the most enjoyable TV movies I've seen. Noah Wyle revealed hidden comic talent as an overeducated nerd thrust into an Indiana Jones role against his will. He was chosen to protect the repository of humanity's greatest secrets, hidden in a library's basement. No ordinary librarian, he suddenly had control over Pandora's Box, the Ark of the Covenant and other mystical artifacts. His job description included traveling to exotic lands to save the world.
The Librarian was at once exciting, romantic, poignant and hilarious. That's a tall order for a sequel, and it's no surprise that The Librarian: Return to King Solomon's Mines falls short. It plays like a standard comic adventure, as Wyle's Flynn Carsen heads off to protect King Solomon's Mines from the bad guys. Wyle turns in another droll performance, but the script and direction lack the original's flair. Gabrielle Anwar makes for a bland love interest, and the plot twists are telegraphed a mile in advance.
What does it mean when I'm bored by two hours of crystal skulls, pits of mystical fire, shaky bridges over bubbling lava, and villains with glowing red eyes? I think it means I need a long, long vacation from the TV blurb-writing biz.
Big in '06 Awards
Sunday, 8 pm (VH1)
VH1's distinctive awards show is a pop-culture extravaganza, featuring such categories as Big Power Couple, Big Outlaw and Big 'It' Girl. Kevin Federline, who released a 2006 hip-hop album bragging about his marriage to Britney Spears, is sure to take home an armload of statuettes. He was the year's Big No-Talent, Big Sponger and, in a hotly contested category, Big Idiot.
With Britney divorcing him, however, Federline is unlikely to reach this peak again. I'd look for him next year in the 'Small in '07 Awards.'
Monday, 8 pm (ABC)
In the season opener, British nanny Jo Frost is confronted with a house of horrors. She wades into the chaos created by two monstrous parents named Jennifer and Thad Bowersock ' emphasis on sock. Jennifer and Thad are firm believers in corporal punishment, terrorizing their three kids with smacks, pinches and pushes, all delivered with red-faced rage. They can't figure out why their methods haven't been working.
But Supernanny can. This is a case where the parents, not the children, require discipline. With a commanding accent that no American would dare disobey, she orders the pair to stop beating their kids and start loving them. She walks the family through hugs, games and respectful conversations. Before long, the parents turn over a new leaf.
I suppose that's the episode's proper conclusion. Still, I can't help wishing for a muscle-bound Super Duper Nanny ' perhaps drawn from the ranks of pro wrestling ' who would dispense with the touchy-feely lessons and just show these demon parents what corporal punishment really feels like.
The Bad Girls Club
Tuesday, 9 pm (Oxygen)
This new reality series wonders what happens when you put eight 'bad girls' together in an L.A. mansion. It doesn't take long to find out. Right off the bat, the volume becomes deafening. 'I have to be loud,' shrieks a bad girl named Zara. 'Otherwise it's BORING!'
Admittedly, this household is not boring. It's filled with strippers, snobs, ex-cons and delinquents, and before the first commercial they're at each other's throats.
'I'll knock your teeth out!' one snarls.
'I'm not intimidated by anyone, bitch!' another answers.
Cue screaming, pushing, punching and hair-pulling.
Suddenly, 'boring' never sounded so appealing.
White House Christmas 2006
Wednesday, 7 pm (HGTV)
Kicking over the Christmas tree, stomping on the ornaments and flinging eggnog against the Oval Office's walls. A better title might have been 'Post-Midterm Lame-Duck White House Christmas.'