You can't say that the new animated comedy "The Oblongs" (6:30 p.m. Sunday, WB) doesn't get right to the point. The first thing you hear is the sound of a toilet flushing. We then see the plumbing of a rich person's house as it descends to the environmentally distressed valley where the Oblong family lives.
The Oblongs are a family of genetically damaged misfits who live in a toxic wasteland. Dad (the voice of Will Ferrell) is an armless, legless, but chipper fellow clearly inspired by a character from Tod Browning's "Freaks." His wife, Pickles (Jean Smart), is a raging alcoholic who wears a bouffant wig because she lost her hair in the befouled valley.
Their children include co-joined twins, Biff and Chip (Randy and Jason Sklar), who bicker about everything. Four-year-old Beth is cute as a button except for the cucumber-shaped growth spurting from her head. Finally, there's Milo, the one-haired, Charlie Brown-like hero of the series who suffers from every known childhood emotional disorder. Even the cat is a chain smoker.
Despite its attempts at social statement, "The Oblongs" is more about the shock value than satire. How clever is the writing? It contains language that is far too gross (not to mention stupid) to be airing at 6:30 p.m. It repeats today, at 7:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.
- The story of the birds and the bees gets a gorgeous updating in the special "The Secret World of Gardens" (8 p.m. Sunday, HGTV), hosted by horticulturist Martin Galloway.
Employing stunning photography and a groovy jazz score, "Gardens" explains how different flowers evolve into fleshy, erotic enticements specifically designed for the bugs and bees that spread their pollen. A breathtaking dose of spring and summer color, particularly for those of us still stuck in this gray, unending winter.
- Four unsigned rock bands compete to win a cash prize, new equipment, a produced music video and a shot at a contract on the newest "reality/gimmick/game/show/documentary" "Bands on the Run" (9 p.m. Sunday, VH1). We follow members of Flickerstick, Soulcracker, Harlow and Josh Dudes as they drive their vans, eat, sleep and prepare for a showcase concert in San Francisco. Let's hope these musicians channel their creativity into their music, because every word out of their mouths is predictable and inane.
- NCAA Basketball continues until 9:30 p.m. (CBS).
- Good-looking executives (Michael Douglas and Demi Moore) battle in the boardroom and the bedroom in the 1994 drama "Disclosure" (7 p.m., ABC). Presented in HDTV.
Sunday's other highlights
- Scheduled on "60 Minutes" (6 p.m., CBS): boy scouts; drug testing; Israel's hit squads.
- Robin Williams stars in the 1997 remake of "Flubber" (6 p.m., ABC).
- Seventy-six teams compete in the five-part endurance test in "Eco Challenge: Borneo" (7 p.m., USA). Nightly through Wednesday.
- Young marines undergo basic training in the 2001 TV drama "Semper Fi" (8 p.m., NBC). A pilot for a drama not developed by the network.
- Justine Waddell stars in the four-part 19th-century costume drama "Wives and Daughters" on "Masterpiece Theatre" (8 p.m., PBS, check local listings).
- A troubled young dancer seeks Tony's help at the Bada Bing on a disturbing episode of "The Sopranos" (8 p.m., HBO). You can't say this series doesn't examine the ugly side of Tony's "business." Meanwhile, Meadow's relationship takes a sudden turn.