Archive for Tuesday, March 20, 2007

If life is a circus, open your own sideshow

March 20, 2007

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Why do we slow down to gawk at highway wrecks? Why do we pick at scabs? Why do people find Tori Spelling fascinating? Life is a mystery.

Spelling and Dean McDermott star in "Tori & Dean: Inn Love" (9:30 p.m., Oxygen), a documentary-style look at the former "90210" star and her actor husband as they start a family and embark on a career as bed-and-breakfast proprietors.

As she did on her most recent show, the semi-documentary sitcom "NoTorious," Spelling celebrates her reputation as the spoiled-princess daughter of television's founding father, Aaron Spelling. Tori grew up in a house roughly the size of New Jersey, and she was raised in a lifestyle of glitzy splendor and rapacious consumption. Now estranged from her mother, Tori has been cast out of the late Aaron's Garden of Eden and reduced to a fortune of "only" $800,000.

In Beverly Hills terms, this inheritance is a slap in the face-lift.

Buying a bed-and-breakfast takes money, so Dean and Tori decide to liquidate assets. Unfortunately, Tori never put her "90210" income into stocks and bonds but into stuff amounting to mountains of clothes and acres of furniture and knick-knackery. A visit to her storage locker recalls the last scene in "Raiders of the Lost Ark."

But the happy couple unload much of this in an estate sale besieged by thousands of fans, media vans and even helicopters. The resulting frenzy of bargain hunting and autograph hounding reminds us that in our current media culture, every day is "The Day of the Locusts." Dean finds this frightening; to Tori, it's business as usual.

Spelling is not without self-deprecating wit and savvy. She's smart to cast herself as a poor little rich girl and seek audience approval in her flight from her mother's wrath and her embrace of a "normal" lifestyle. And if she suffers a relapse into binge shopping, she's all the more sympathetic. "Inn Love" unfolds over eight episodes. If the B&B thing doesn't pan out, Spelling is writing her memoirs, scheduled for publication in 2008.

¢ Nominated for an Academy Award, the documentary "Iraq in Fragments" (6 p.m., Cinemax) looks at the country from three distinct perspectives. Part 1 follows a young Baghdad orphan whose hopes for a better life clash with the city's disintegration into crime and sectarian violence. Part 2 offers a harrowing look inside a Shiite militia group, and the concluding segment follows farmers in the Kurdish north. Begun six months before the U.S. invasion of March 2003 and continued after the fall of the Hussein regime, "Fragments" offers an all-too-rare glance at the war from the Iraqi perspective.

Tonight's other highlights

¢ The top 11 compete on "American Idol" (7 p.m., Fox).

¢ Accent the Neghev-tive on "The Unit" (8 p.m., CBS).

¢ Scheduled on "Primetime" (8 p.m., ABC): the last of the "Outsider" series.

¢ The host of "Dirty Jobs" (8 p.m., Discovery) works for scale, cleaning fish and catching lobsters.

¢ Megan Mullally guest stars on "Boston Legal" (9 p.m., ABC).

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