Archive for Friday, April 7, 2006

Country music gets reflective

April 7, 2006


Country singer Tim McGraw performs in a New York club and from his Nashville home on the special "Tim McGraw: Reflected" (7 p.m., NBC). Hank Williams Jr. will join him for one number and an orchestra will accompany him for another. His famous wife, Faith Hill, joins him for a duet.

¢ "Biography" continues in a similar vein with "Hairdos and Heartache: The Women of Country Music" (7 p.m., A&E;). The two-hour special includes a wealth of archival music and interviews with singers from the past five decades.

Many of the veteran singers felt that they were second-class citizens in a musical genre with image problems of its own. For years, Hollywood and the TV industry treated country music as entertainment for hicks. Even the most accomplished musicians had to perform next to a hay bale or a cardboard cutout of a pig. Lynn Anderson and K.T. Oslin recall being told that there were only so many spots for "the girls," a quota system based on the false assumption that women only bought records by men.

Many contemporary artists praise the business acumen of artists like Dolly Parton, Barbara Mandrell and Reba McEntire, who are also interviewed here. Parton departs from her sweetheart image long enough to explain how she hires the smartest lawyers and accountants to look after her interests. "And then I hire somebody else to keep an eye on them," she says.

Artists of several generations express mixed emotions about the use of videos. Most agree that McEntire used them brilliantly to identify with her female audience. But others contend that the success of beauties like Shania Twain has raised the bar for visual sexiness, something that takes away from the music.

Drawing on so many participating talents, this "Biography" shows off the music, hairstyles and wardrobes from the past 50 years. It should delight at least three generations of country-music fans.

¢ "Can't Get a Date" (11 p.m., VH1) offers practical and amusing advice for the lovelorn. A wise and understanding but unseen narrator interacts with a socially inept subject, offering encouragement, hints and tough love.

In the "Date" offered for review, we meet a hygiene-challenged 35-year-old guy who lives with his mother and interjects comic-book references into every conversation. He gets new glasses, clean clothes, a new haircut and a healthy dose of perspective. While frequently cringe-worthy, "Date" is more kind than cruel.

Tonight's other highlights

¢ A blow to the head results in spectral static on "Ghost Whisperer" (7 p.m., CBS).

¢ On two episodes of "Bernie Mac" (Fox), Jordan's date (7 p.m.), Wanda's birthday (7:30 p.m.).

¢ Annabeth finds old friends on both sides of a case on "Close to Home" (8 p.m., CBS).

¢ A surprise twist in a school shooting on "Numb3rs" (9 p.m., CBS).

¢ Billy's rotation at a psych ward proves eventful on "Conviction" (9 p.m., NBC).

¢l Scheduled on "20/20" (9 p.m., ABC): twin babies in need of new hearts; a controversial new book about Jesus.


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