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Wednesday, October 1, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 67.0° F  Mostly Cloudy
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Teen Spirit sends us to high school heaven
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<i>Teen Spirit</i> may look like normal cable junk, but the talented filmmakers take things to another level.
Teen Spirit may look like normal cable junk, but the talented filmmakers take things to another level.

In Teen Spirit (Sunday, 7 p.m., ABC Family), a high school's mean girl (Cassie Scerbo) accidentally dies on her way to the stage to accept her prom-queen crown. She ends up in limbo, where an afterlife bureaucrat offers to send her to heaven if she first returns to her school to help a nerd (Lindsey Shaw) become popular.

I sense that you are mentally crossing this TV movie off your must-watch list. DON'T DO IT! Teen Spirit may look like normal cable junk, but the talented filmmakers take things to another level. The script sparkles with snark, and the actors are all gifted comedians.

Plus, I suspect that Teen Spirit is the only high school movie in the history of television that contains a reference to avant-garde composer Charles Ives. His "Concord" sonata happens to be a favorite of Lisa, the aforementioned nerd. Lisa gets the usual Cinderella makeover montage and a chance to date her school's dreamboat, but the movie lampoons these clichés rather than embracing them.

The only thing that could have made me happier about Teen Spirit is a Charles Ives soundtrack.

Friends with Benefits
Friday, 7 pm (NBC)

It's another sitcom about gorgeous, charming singles with incongruous dating problems. Friends with Benefits was scheduled for midseason but got bumped to summer, where NBC is now presumably "burning it off" in advance of the new fall series.

I was about to make a wisecrack about that, but then I realized I really have nothing better to do in August than watch NBC's castoffs. So I'll just sit here quietly and watch the gorgeous, charming people deal with their hellish lives.

Teen Choice Awards
Sunday, 7 pm (Fox)

Everybody's thrilled to be part of the Teen Choice Awards, but that's because they have no sense of history. I'm here to tell you that being on this show is a curse. If you don't believe me, check out previous nominees who've either fallen into obscurity (Natasha Lyonne, Rosanna Arquette, Chris Klein) or hell (Britney Spears, Andy Dick, Lindsay Lohan).

A word to the wise: If your name is called at this year's ceremony, run in the opposite direction of the podium.

Curb Your Enthusiasm
Sunday, 9 pm (HBO)

Larry David's sitcom about his own life as a calculating Los Angeles TV writer is as brilliant as ever in its eighth season. David is the Mozart of deviousness, capable of seemingly endless variations.

You might have read that Larry's character will head from Los Angeles to New York during the season. The plot twist comes in this week's episode, and I guess I shouldn't tell you how it comes about. I'll only say that it's the result of sneakiness, lying and cowardice over an incredibly trivial matter.

But you probably already figured that out.

Against the Wall
Sunday, 9 pm (Lifetime)

Lifetime presented a formidable female cop on The Protector, with none of the usual attempts to soften her around the edges. By contrast, Lifetime's new police drama, Against the Wall, sets women back a few years by taking female vulnerability to new extremes.

Our detective heroine, Abby (Rachael Carpani), is a Meg Ryan look-alike with cute outfits and a cute blond ponytail. She's supposedly a veteran cop who's just started a job at Internal Affairs, but you sense only helplessness. Abby gets so nervous around good-looking guys, for instance, that she knocks over grocery store displays. She tearfully apologizes to the other cops in her family for taking a job in IA, including her Ben Affleck-look-alike brother.

Not even the real Meg Ryan and Ben Affleck could save Against the Wall.

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