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Archive for Wednesday, March 29, 2006

College soap soiled by sleaze

March 29, 2006

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I've been waiting for years for someone to turn college life into a bona fide soap opera, and "The Bedford Diaries" (8 p.m., WB) does just that. Too bad it's irredeemably sleazy and often just plain dumb.

Set in a fictional New York university called Bedford, the series centers around a "sex and the human condition" seminar run by Professor Macklin (Matthew Modine). He asks his students to keep a video diary of their deepest thoughts about their sex lives, past and present. These "confessions" provide a running chorus and commentary throughout the drama.

"Bedford" has its share of melodrama. A black scholarship student wrestles with his feelings for a girlfriend back in his neighborhood while resisting the temptation of cooing coeds. A student (Corri English) tries to live down the notoriety of her attempted suicide. The preppy editor (Milo Ventimiglia) of the school paper decides to publish a story about a professor's dalliance with a student. The same editor wrestles with his emotional numbness after becoming sober.

If "Bedford" consisted only of these stories, it might be remotely watchable. But the sexual video diaries tip the scales towards smarmy voyeurism and the kind of prurient teen exploitation that has often made the WB more than slightly unseemly.

The fact that Professor Macklin's class includes a brother and sister, Owen (Penn Badgley) and Sarah (Tiffany Dupont), who must share their intimate thoughts with each other adds a touch of provocative perversion that should send most viewers packing.

Tonight's other highlights

¢ Howie Mandel hosts "Deal or No Deal" (7 p.m., NBC).

¢ A skull found in the desert may belong to a friend on "Bones" (7 p.m., Fox).

¢ The votes are tallied on "American Idol" (8 p.m., Fox).

¢ A celebrity stalker turns deadly on "Criminal Minds" (8 p.m., CBS).

¢ A bank robber receives help from an unlikely source on "Law & Order" (8 p.m., NBC).

¢ The hatch develops a few odd quirks on "Lost" (8 p.m., ABC).

¢ A hijacked helicopter was carrying a human liver awaiting transplant on "CSI: NY" (9 p.m., CBS).

¢ Amy extends an invitation on "Heist" (9 p.m., NBC).

¢ A boxer expires soon after a bout on "The Evidence" (9 p.m., ABC).

¢ After seeing what happened to Chef on last week's "South Park" (9 p.m., Comedy Central), will anyone ever cross Matt Stone and Trey Parker again?

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