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Archive for Saturday, November 4, 2006

Awesome’ summons ‘80s

November 4, 2006

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Fans of the ludicrous high-concept coming-of-age movies of the Reagan era are in for a big pink treat. "Totally Awesome" (8 p.m. today, VH1) slices, dices and purees every movie plot from "Revenge of the Nerds" to "Footloose."

Pittsburgh teen Charlie (Mikey Day) finds himself on the bottom of the pecking order when his clueless parents uproot him to California. His sister, Lori (Dominique Swain), has it worse. On the verge of a big ballet career, she discovers that their new school and new town has banned dancing. Luckily, the school has an overripe janitor (Chris Kattan, in a role he was born to play) who teaches jazz dance and other dirty flashdance steps in an abandoned warehouse at the edge of town.

Charlie takes on the "cool" kids with the help of a mentor in ghetto attitude (Tracy Morgan), an Asian martial arts instructor (James Hong) and the senior class's least popular girl, Billie (Nicki Clyne). Charlie also has a bratty, brainy little brother developing a super-computer in his spare time. Oh, and the school's even got a werewolf!

"Awesome" abounds in knowing observations. Jokes about super-slow computer speeds and Michael Jackson's status as a sex symbol are complemented by the presence of Ben Stein ("Ferris Bueller's Day Off"), who introduces the film and pops up occasionally to comment on the action.

¢ "Roseanne Barr: Blonde and Bitchin"' (9 p.m. today, HBO) marks the return of the sitcom star and talk-show failure to standup comedy. As you can expect, it's an awkward and uneven show. In the late 1980s, Roseanne amused and enraged millions with her no-nonsense observations about being a less-than-perfect wife and mother. Her material was drawn from her admittedly messy life, and many could relate.

Barr spends at least half of "Blonde" rummaging through topical humor and offering shrill political commentary. Things reach a low point when she starts riffing on a Time article about global warming. Barr has also acquired that most Hollywood of afflictions, self-pity. It's sad and not terribly entertaining to hear a woman complain that she's "old" at 53, an age when many great comics begin hitting their stride. Barr does have some moments. She closes the show with a brazen and self-referential rendition of "My Way" in which she apologizes for her greatest sin: foisting Tom Arnold upon the world.

Today's highlights

¢ California hosts UCLA in college football action (7 p.m., ABC).

¢ NFL star Bernie Kosar appears on "America's Most Wanted" (8 p.m., Fox).

¢ College students choose their favorite music on the "2006 mtvU Woodie Awards" (9 p.m., MTV).

Sunday's highlights

¢ Scheduled on "60 Minutes" (6 p.m., CBS): dismantling ships in Bangladesh; a congressman's fight against pork; a profile of Russell Crowe.

¢ The Patriots host the Colts on "Sunday Night Football" (7 p.m., NBC).

¢ "Nick News with Linda Ellerbee: Cheap Shots and Low Blows: How Debate Turns to Hate" (7:30 p.m., Nickelodeon) presents a young person's perspective on TV talk shows.

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