In Drop Dead Diva (Sunday, 8 p.m., Lifetime), Deb's beautiful face and size 2 body seem to have forged her soul. She's a shallow model who cares only about lip gloss and the perfect shade of fingernail polish - specifically, "Ironic Taffy" for her audition as a Price Is Right babe. On her way to the audition she dies in a car accident, goes to heaven and returns to Earth in the body of a plump, plain lawyer (Brooke Elliott) with no life to speak of. Suddenly she has brains, and she's not used to it. "Ow!" she exclaims when a serious thought goes through her head.
Myself, I exclaimed "Ugh!" at the prospect of another soul-switch scenario. But Drop Dead Diva brings fresh energy to the old clichés. The script wickedly parodies pretty-people culture, creating a sympathetic portrait of the new Deb, who struggles for the first time in her life.
Drop Dead Diva is so enjoyable that I wished my own soul would migrate into the body of a plump, plain guy with no life to speak of. Wait a minute...I guess that's already happened.
Keyshawn Johnson: Tackling Design
Saturday, 11 am (A&E)
It sounds like a Saturday Night Live skit: an NFL bruiser gets his own interior design series. But no, A&E is serious about letting wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson create rooms for victims - I mean clients - despite the fact that he appears to know little about design.
That's not to say he doesn't have opinions. To judge from the pilot, Johnson wants to turn every space into a version of a sports bar. Asked to redesign a couple's converted garage, he suggests multiple big-screen TVs, sports memorabilia on the walls and furniture embroidered with the logo of the USC Trojans, his alma mater. The wife is horrified, having requested a space where she could do her scrapbooking. But Johnson is as hard to stop here as he was on the football field, and the room materializes just as he envisioned it.
If Johnson goes out of control, creating USC Trojan-themed rooms all around the country for unwilling homeowners, A&E will have a lot to answer for.
Saturday, 7 pm (Cartoon Network)
This game show finds its contestants at an amusement park. The host asks them questions while their brains are being scrambled on rollercoasters, such as the diabolical Accelerator. The fun is in seeing people unable to answer easy questions because they're being corkscrewed at 5 g's.
The conceit grows old pretty fast. If you've seen one kid fail to name the second U.S. president at 80 miles per hour, you've seen them all. Something tells me that Cartoon Network executives conceived this series while their brains were being scrambled on the Accelerator.
Sunday, 8 pm (NBC)
In this miniseries, a giant meteor hurtles toward Earth, and the only man who can stop it is...George Costanza from Seinfeld? That's right, someone at NBC had the insane idea of casting Jason Alexander in a straight-faced disaster movie. He's a military scientist who must figure out a way to destroy the meteor and save life as we know it.
Meteor tries to be all dark and somber, with crumbling cities and screaming victims. But how can we keep from laughing when Alexander outlines the doomsday scenario in the same stuttering, neurotic delivery that George would have used? I found myself wondering if he was lying about the meteor to cover up some scam he and Kramer devised.
Time Team America
Monday, 9 pm (WHA)
Time Team America is a cool name for a show about archeologists investigating age-old mysteries. You expect the Time Team to be superhero types with capes and special powers.
In fact, they're just regular scientists with high-tech equipment, descending upon sites for an intensive three-day investigation. In the premiere, Time Team America heads to North Carolina's Roanoke Island to seek physical evidence of the first, doomed colony of English settlers from 1585.
It's pretty interesting stuff, but capes would have been greatly appreciated.
Tuesday, 9 pm (Bravo)
In the future, everyone will be famous for 15 minutes - at least, everyone who's extraordinarily obnoxious. Every few weeks, Bravo premieres a reality series about some new, repulsive population. The producers are apparently scouring the country for narcissistic housewives, debauched prep school kids, self-aggrandizing business people and anyone else willing to show a flagrantly nasty side on national TV.
But the supply must be running low. The subjects of Miami Social aren't really a distinct cohort, but just a random group of friends who party hearty in Miami. I will grant you, however, that they're sickening enough to meet Bravo's standard. They obsess on their shallow relationships, cackle at their own stupid jokes, pamper themselves, brag about their fabulousness and look down at anyone who lacks their money or good looks. A self-satisfied designer named Ariel, for example, can't stand the idea of an inferior specimen sharing his air. "Get the fat girl out of my table!" he barks into a cell phone as if he were a member of the Master Race.
Okay, maybe I'm crossing the line with that Nazi reference. Hey, I'm just trying to be obnoxious enough to get my own Bravo reality series.