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Archive for Saturday, December 15, 2007

Sopranos’ taking over holiday hits

December 15, 2007

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It's beginning to look a lot like a "Sopranos" Christmas. Former stars from the hit mob drama are all over the dial. Last Sunday, Christopher (Michael Imperioli) starred as a suicidal former NY Met in the adaptation of Mitch Albom's mawkish drama "For One More Day."

Tony Soprano himself (James Gandolfini) shows up in the 2004 comedy "Surviving Christmas" (7 p.m. today, ABC), an ill-conceived holiday tale about a sad sack (Ben Affleck) who decides to bother the folks living in his family's old home.

The film did not leave critics in a festive mood. "Surviving Christmas" inspired a Village Voice contributor to write: "This ghastly comedy emits the subliminal whine of a sucking chest wound." Both Newsweek and The Boston Globe used the word "swill" in their write-ups.

Lorraine Bracco, who played Dr. Melfi on "The Sopranos," co-stars in the holiday movie "Snowglobe" (7 p.m. today, Family). She portrays the meddling Italian mother of Angela (Christina Milian), a gorgeous, earthy deli worker from Brooklyn who yearns for a more civilized and refined world where the values of a Martha Stewart Christmas reign supreme.

She gets more than she asked for when her dreams take her to the inside of a mysterious snow globe, a wonderful, confined place where a Norman Rockwell Christmas never ends. The natives are picture perfect, if a tad uncomplicated. And there is this handsome guy in a cable knit sweater who wants to teach her to skate.

¢ British comedies tend to end sooner and more emphatically than American sitcoms. With the exception of "The Simpsons," which I hope runs forever, there isn't a single hit American sitcom I can think of that didn't linger on a season or two beyond its peak.

Ricky Gervais, the creator of "The Office," used a wonderful Christmas special to draw the curtain on the British version of that series. And he does the same for "Extras: The Extra Special Series Finale" (8 p.m. Sunday, HBO).

But don't go looking for holiday cheer. He puts a stake through this story with the moral convictions of Charles Dickens, writing a dark "Christmas Carol" for the reality-television age.

While the half-hour episodes of "Extras" were frequently brilliant and as laugh-out loud funny as anything on television, this 90-minute special has important things to say and goes for long stretches without so much as a giggle. That's not to say it's not very, very good and worthy of attention. Guest stars include George Michael in a self-mocking role as well as Clive Owen playing a self-involved star to the hilt. Gordon Ramsay also shows up and does not disappoint.

Tonight's highlights

¢ "True Hollywood Story" (5 p.m., E!) profiles Nicole Kidman.

¢ Cable's unending sequels continue with "Love's Unfolding Dream" (8 p.m., Hallmark).

¢ A tropical vacation leads to close ties in the 2007 romance "Christmas in Paradise" (8 p.m., Lifetime).

¢ "The Critics Choice" (9 p.m., VH1) looks back at the best films of 2007.

Sunday's highlights

¢ Scheduled on "60 Minutes" (6 p.m., CBS): gay soldiers; newly discovered species.

¢ A winner emerges on the season finale of "Survivor" (7 p.m., CBS).

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

¢ "Psychic Kids: Children of the Paranormal" (7 p.m. Biography) profiles young people with something "extra."

¢ "Tut's Treasures" (7 p.m., National Geographic) revisits the often molested tomb of the famous pharaoh.

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