It would be easy to call "Fat Actress" (9 p.m., Showtime) one of the worst new shows of the year. But that would not be fair. It might just rank among the worst shows of all time.
The loosely scripted documentary-style comedy follows Kirstie Alley's efforts to lose weight, get a new sitcom and possibly a new man. Fans of Alley's characters on "Cheers," "Veronica's Closet" and her three "Look Who's Talking" films will find her self-portrayal grim, vulgar and desperate. The first episode also trades in shallow racial stereotyping. And while this bit of politically incorrect humor is supposed to make the show edgy, the comic payoff is jaw-dropping in its crudeness. And it gets worse. In Episode 2, Alley consumes vast quantities of laxatives as a dietary aid and spends a considerable amount of screen time on the toilet.
- Most women I know find boxing repulsive. And most men who like sports would rather watch sports than reality television. So who, exactly, is left to watch "The Contender" (8:30 p.m., NBC), a boxing reality show produced by "Rocky" star Sylvester Stallone and world champion boxer Sugar Ray Leonard, who also are the show's hosts?
The first three-quarters of "The Contender" is pure reality show. The 16 palookas are introduced in soft focus; they offer platitudes about home and family. Piano keys are heard softly plinking. Yet none of this alters the fact that two of the pugilists will spend the last 15 minutes of the show beating each other to a bloody pulp.
As reality, "The Contender" is nothing new or special. And as sports, it's rather like watching an Olympics, in which those cloying human-interest stories have replaced 90 percent of the action.
Tonight's other highlights
- Eight sing to survive on "American Idol" (7 p.m., Fox).
- Viewers chose tonight's episode of "Everybody Loves Raymond" (8 p.m., CBS).
- Erin is replaced on "24" (8 p.m., Fox).
- Joely Richardson stars in the 2005 drama "Lies My Mother Told Me" (8 p.m., Lifetime).
Billy Crystal and Patrick Lawler appear on "Late Show with David Letterman" (10:35 p.m., CBS) ... Jay Leno hosts Robin Williams, Andy Roddick and Gavin DeGraw on "The Tonight Show" (10:35 p.m., NBC) ... Amy Brenneman and Brazilian Girls appear on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" (11:05 p.m., ABC).