Here are the six scariest words in TV: "From the Mind of Kim Kardashian." The airhead socialite has become famous for doing nothing, aside from playing herself in the reality series Keeping Up with the Kardashians. And how hard could that be, since her life basically consists of standing around in tight clothes?
Now Kim shares her creative genius with us as the executive producer of The Spin Crowd (Sunday, 9:30 p.m., E!). It's an inside look at her own publicity agency - that's right, the people who helped make her famous for doing nothing. Would you be surprised to learn that Kim herself appears in the show, wearing tight clothes?
I don't think reality TV can get any more insubstantial or self-referential, unless perhaps Kim's tight clothes go on to executive produce a series about themselves.
All You Need Is Klaus
Sunday, 7 pm (Smithsonian Channel)
Klaus Voorman is an iffy documentary subject. He's not an important cultural figure himself, but he befriended the Beatles in their early Hamburg days and played bass on albums by John Lennon, George Harrison and Carly Simon. He proves to be a thoughtful German with moderately interesting stories about hanging out with people we care about more than we care about him.
Most interesting of all is Voorman's tale of wandering into a dank Hamburg club in the early '60s and discovering the young Beatles playing for a handful of drunks. Near as I can tell, he's the first person on Earth who really got excited about them - and I suppose that alone qualifies him for his own documentary.
Monday, 8 pm (NBC)
I always tune into the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants for a good laugh, especially during the final question-and-answer segment. After parading around in swimsuits and high heels, the contestants are asked for their usually nonexistent opinions on weighty social, political and legal matters.
But I got the shock of my life at last spring's Miss USA pageant. The questions were as tough as ever, but most of the women answered them intelligently, with nuance and a humane perspective. Miss Michigan argued that health insurance should indeed cover birth control; Miss Virginia saw the BP oil spill as a reason to pursue alternative energy; and Miss Oklahoma affirmed states' rights to deal with illegal immigration while also denouncing racial profiling.
I will watch this week's Miss Universe pageant not to laugh, but to gain an understanding of complex global problems. And maybe even to see a few of them solved.
Monday, 9 pm (TruTV)
If you told me I'd enjoy hanging out in a Detroit pawn shop, I'd have said you were crazy. But Hardcore Pawn is a fascinating look at the inner workings of American Jewelry and Loan, a family-owned operation with a steady stream of characters looking to buy or sell. These customers occasionally turn threatening, and that's when owner Les Gold deploys a hulking security guard named Robo who could stop a tank with one punch. Or maybe even with one smoldering look.
I do have a couple of reservations about Hardcore Pawn, but I'll keep them to myself. There's no reason to get Robo mad at me unnecessarily.
Summer Under the Stars: Lauren Bacall
Wednesday, 5 am onward (TCM)
What is Lauren Bacall's greatest screen performance? Most would pick To Have and Have Not or The Big Sleep, but they would be wrong. This Bacall marathon allows us to see her role in Young Man With a Horn (9 pm) as her best ever. She plays the mixed-up wife of jazz trumpeter Kirk Douglas, making the character sympathetic in spite of her villainous behavior. It may be one of Hollywood's most underrated performances, just as Young Man With a Horn is one of its most underrated movies.
True, I'm a certifiable Young Man With a Horn fanatic, having seen it dozens of times and taken my identification with the brooding Douglas character to dangerous extremes. But even psychologically normal people would love this movie. Really. Watch it, then join my campaign to have the National Film Preservation Board add it to the National Film Registry. Together, we can make this thing happen.
You're Wearing That?
Thursday, 9 pm (We TV)
This makeover show focuses on mothers and daughters who need help with their wardrobes. The idea seems to be: Fix the clothes and you fix the life. For example, American Idol contestant Kimberley Locke wants to help her mother overcome breast cancer, low self-esteem and general unhappiness. She and the makeover guru get her out of stretch pants and baggy T-shirts, finding fabrics with something called "darts." Not only do they make Mom look better, but they apparently solve all her other problems. By the end of the episode she feels confident and fulfilled, surrounded by adoring friends and family.
Where can I get me some of these "darts"?