The line between good and bad cop shows is often thin. At first glance, Flashpoint (Friday, 9 p.m., CBS) seems like a standard entry in the genre: The members of a Strategic Response Unit deal with conflicts at home while handling hostage situations at work. But this series is a cut above.
You're struck by the lack of flashy quick cuts and roaring rock music during a crisis. That's always been the easy way to build excitement, but Flashpoint chooses the hard way: getting inside the characters' heads, both cops and criminals. There's an eerie calm as the police surround a man with a gun and the snipers take their place on the rooftops. A trigger is pulled; a bad guy lies dead on the concrete; a sense of regret sets in. The snipers' disorientation is palpable, and is mirrored in the filmmaking. Sound recedes and time slows. Even the criminal is granted a moment of humanity as a family member mourns over his corpse.
Flashpoint is a rarity among TV cop shows. It doesn't take killing lightly.
The Fairly OddParents
Friday, 7 pm (Nickelodeon)
The twisted toon about fairy godparents weighs in with a timely parody. A rogues' gallery of supernatural creatures participates in the Fairy World Games, which are just like the Olympics. Events include cloud diving, rainbow jumping and the one-million-year dash.
The Fairy World Games' motto is "cheaters never win, and winners never cheat." In that sense, I guess, they aren't exactly like the Olympics.
Long Way Down
Saturday, 8 pm (Fox Reality)
This charming series will chronicle Ewan McGregor's 15,000-mile motorcycle trip with his friend Charley Boorman. They plan to ride from the northern tip of Scotland to the southern tip of Africa, passing through 18 countries. "Like a boy, I'm excited," Ewan chirps, while Charley makes motorcycle noises with his lips.
The friends' enthusiasm is infectious. It's also slightly mad. The first episode covers the preparations for the trip, and it's filled with more bad omens than Macbeth. There's trouble getting passports. A rash of kidnappings breaks out in Ethiopia, forcing Ewan and Charley to take a hostage-training course. Ewan breaks his leg in a motorcycle accident. Charlie is detained by police at an airport and misses the flight to the Scottish starting point. Finally, his wife's lung collapses just before the trip begins.
You'd think that would be the last straw. But nothing will stop these insanely determined adventurers. "If we canceled the trip, it would just put her under more stress," Charley reasons.
You can rest assured that, short of nuclear apocalypse, these two will make it to South Africa. Actually, even with nuclear apocalypse.
The Two Coreys
Sunday, 9 pm (A&E)
The Two Coreys is about former child stars who happen to be named Corey. Nowadays, that's enough of a hook to build a reality series around. Corey Feldman and Corey Haim were in a few movies together back in the day, and now they're both a couple of bums. In this week's episode, they enter therapy to try to rebuild their friendship. Later, Feldman invites Haim to his house, where Haim is shocked to discover an intervention. He denies having a substance-abuse problem and storms out of the room. Both Coreys decide that this marks the end of their fragile relationship.
And I've decided it marks the end of my fragile relationship with The Two Coreys.
Teen Choice Awards
Monday, 7 pm (Fox)
The Teen Choice Awards has always been corrupt. The show is a shameless way of selling stuff to kids while making them think it's all about their "choice." Hey teens, of the five products we're shoving down your throat at the moment, which do you prefer?
This year's production is desperate to move new merchandise. Categories include Choice Summer Movie, Choice Summer TV Show and Choice Summer Song. Never mind that most of the nominees weren't released till shortly before the voting deadline. Even if teens know almost nothing about what they're choosing, it still makes for a nice prime-time commercial, right?
Fox has partnered with MySpace for the 2008 Teen Choice Awards. So it's no surprise to find a new category called Favorite MySpacer. Next year, brace yourself for Choice Pepsi Drinker.
Criss Angel Mindfreak
Wednesday, 9 pm (A&E)
Magician Criss Angel places an ad seeking people who are skeptical of his supposed supernatural abilities. He invites the skeptics to lead him to four elevator doors. Behind three of them are regular elevators, while the other one hides an empty shaft. Blindfolded, Criss must decide which of the three elevators are safe to enter.
If he chooses wrong, he dies. If he chooses right, the skeptics must admit that he has magical powers. And that Santa Claus is real, too.