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Thursday, December 25, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 41.0° F  Mostly Cloudy
The Daily

TELEVISION

Would-be composers can't carry a tune in Platinum Hit

Have you ever wondered why most pop music sounds so bad, given all the talented musicians to choose from and all the money that goes into each song? Platinum Hit offers a clue. In this reality competition, Jewel, Kara DioGuardi and other music-industry bigwigs put a dozen composer-performers through a series of tests to identify the next big hitmaker. >More
 Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez hurt American Idol

Everybody seems delighted with the new version of American Idol, from the media to the fans. On the eve of the season finale, I still haven't figured out why. There have been a few solid singers, but no spectacular ones to rival the Adam Lamberts or Fantasias of previous seasons. And to me, new judges Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler are no substitute for Simon Cowell. If they made an insightful comment during this season's run, I missed it. >More
 The Real Housewives of New Jersey come to blows

In some ways, life is good for the Real Housewives of New Jersey in the season premiere. Teresa has gotten a great reception for a cookbook, and her sister-in-law Melissa is looking forward to her son's christening. "I can't wait to welcome my son into God's kingdom," she says. >More
 Lady Gaga appoints herself supreme freak

Three things are certain in this life: death, taxes, and the fact that Lady Gaga will put on a good show. It's hard to be bored during Lady Gaga Presents the Monster Ball Tour at Madison Square Garden, with its delirious beats, crazily shaped costumes, sexy dancing and glittering sets. And yet, I can't deny feeling uncomfortable in certain parts. >More
 The royal wedding takes over American TV

The media have already proclaimed the April 29 nuptials of England's Prince William and Kate Middleton "the wedding of the century" 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. >More
 Beyond the Blackboard redeems heroic-teacher clichés

Beyond the Blackboard is another entry in a disreputable movie genre: the white middle-class teacher who goes into the 'hood and, against all odds, gets through to the previously unreachable disadvantaged kids. I'm personally inclined to distrust these glorified stories, having been a teacher myself in a disadvantaged neighborhood with less than glorious results. >More
 Paul Reiser returns to wallow in misery

Where has Paul Reiser been hiding? The star of the beloved 1990s series Mad About You is a natural-born sitcom comedian, and he hasn't lost a bit of his endearing nervous energy in The Paul Reiser Show. >More
 A dweeb attacks corporate firewalls in Breaking In

Usually only one sitcom works for every couple dozen that premiere, and Breaking In is that one. It finds the perfect blend of acting, writing and directing to achieve a craziness all its own. >More
 Pregnant in Heels helps out clueless mothers-to-be

Just when you think all the good reality ideas are taken, here comes Pregnant in Heels. It's about "mommy concierge" Rosie Pope, who caters to preposterous pregnant women on New York City's posh Upper East Side. These women tend to be selfish, status-conscious narcissists, and Rosie knows it -- hence her charm. >More
 Mildred Pierce handles its source material way too politely

HBO turns the James M. Cain novel/Joan Crawford movie Mildred Pierce into a prestige project: a five-part miniseries starring Kate Winslet as a beleaguered mom-turned-businesswoman in the 1930s. The story is your basic trashy melodrama, but director Todd Haynes treats it with misguided tastefulness. >More
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