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Archive for Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Amish in the City’ tries to tempt young followers

July 28, 2004

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Can a group of kids from a strict religious background cope in a "Real World" setting? "Amish in the City" (7 p.m., UPN) follows a group of Amish teens as they embark on "rumspringa," a cultural ritual that allows young people to taste the freedoms and pleasures of the "English," or modern, world. It's done in the hopes that once they sow their wild oats, they will return to the fold. Rumspringa was the subject of "Devil's Playground," a 2001 documentary by one of the co-creators of "Amish in the City."

While "Devils Playground" is set in Amish country, "Amish" exports the kids to Los Angeles, where they are housed "Real World"-style with a group of reality-TV types. Since I haven't seen the show I can't say which group prevails, but the wording of the UPN press release is very telling. The Amish kids are termed "rural," "religious" and "traditional." Their new playmates are described with words like "handsome," "fashion forward," "colorful" and that holy of holies, "diverse." The show will expose the Amish youths to the "delights" of "modern, cosmopolitan life." You can't judge a show by its press release, but I can already smell a very stacked deck.

  • Tuesday, the city of Chicago honored actor/comedian Bob Newhart with a life-sized statue. It's touching to know that generations of pigeons will be roosting on his "buttoned-down mind." To commemorate the Newhart unveiling, TV Land airs the half-hour salute "Bob Newhart: Breaking the Mold" (9 p.m., TV Land), followed by three episodes of "The Bob Newhart Show" starting at 9:30 p.m. Newhart also can be seen on "Late Night with David Letterman" (10:30 p.m., CBS).
  • "Al Roker Investigates" (9 p.m., Court TV) features the story of Katie Tarbox, who was targeted by a 41-year-old Internet predator when she was 13 years old.

Tonight's other highlights

  • Only six remain on "Next Action Star" (7 p.m., NBC).
  • Jim Lehrer anchors three hours of Democratic National Convention coverage (7 p.m., PBS).

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