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Archive for Saturday, February 2, 2008

Weekend filled with super stereotypes

February 2, 2008

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Super Bowl weekend is the Lollapalooza of gender generalizations. Or is it the Lilith Fair?

If the TV schedule (and advertising slate) is any indication, guys just want to watch the big game, drink beer and fantasize about their next new car. The Super Bowl grabs a big ratings slice, leaving every other network to fight for crumbs by catering to "female" desires with programming about romance novels, home decorating and do-it-yourself fantasies of spackling and shelf building.

Didn't we learn anything from "March of the Penguins" (7 p.m. today, Science)? That hugely popular 2005 documentary showed how emperor penguins divvied up the chores - with the gals off on a long foraging adventure while the guys stayed at home doing their nurturing thing.

¢ Hallmark kicks off the estrogen festival with "Bridal Fever" (8 p.m. today). Andrea Roth stars as Gwen, a 30ish editorial assistant who has worn entirely too many bridesmaid dresses. She and her pal Sandra (Melinda Deines) vow not to be the last unmarried women in their circle.

Fate arrives when Gwen is assigned to edit the memoirs of romance novelist Dahlia Marchand (Delta Burke), whose seven trips down the aisle qualify her to be the Elizabeth Taylor of book publishing. Dahlia takes both women under her wing, and before you can say "montage," Sandra finds herself engaged, and Gwen feels conflicted between an ambitious and attentive lawyer with whom she shares zero chemistry and an underemployed bookstore manager with soul mate potential.

You don't need a Ph.D. to see where this is going. Unfortunately, Dahlia's tantrums are few and short-lived, and she's given entirely too little scenery to chew. Nobody watches a Burke movie to see her behave herself and dispense wisdom.

¢ Knee-deep in a several-monthlong celebration of Jane Austen novels, "Masterpiece Theatre" (8 p.m. Sunday, PBS, check local listings) presents "Miss Austen Regrets." a speculative biographical vignette based on the author's surviving correspondence.

"Regrets" finds Austen (Olivia Williams) at 40, well-established as a novelist with a loyal and admiring readership that ranges from scullery maids to Buckingham Palace. Fame hardly brings much income, and we soon learn that her family is as encumbered by debts, bankruptcies and obligations as many of her characters.

"Regrets" is a bummer from start to finish. It's as if its makers set out to depress every unmarried literature major in the English-speaking world. If you love to love Jane Austen adaptations, give this a wide berth, and hold out for the 1995 adaptation of "Pride and Prejudice" that airs over several weeks, beginning next Sunday.

¢ Super Bowl counterprogramming includes "Puppy Bowl VI" (2 p.m. Sunday, Animal Planet), a three-hour live feed of puppies and kittens engaged in tackling, huddling and just plain cuddling.

¢ DIY kicks off an 11-hour marathon of "Bathroom Renovation" shows under the heading "The Toilet Bowl" (11 a.m. Sunday).

Today's highlights

¢ A killer without memory on "Torchwood" (8 p.m., BBC America).

Sunday's highlights

¢ The Giants and the Patriots meet in Super Bowl XLII (5 p.m., Fox).

¢ "CBS Reports" (6 p.m., CBS) looks at National Guard troops in Iraq.

¢ Scales jiggle on a four-hour helping of "Biggest Loser" (6 p.m., NBC).

¢ Scheduled on "60 Minutes" (7 p.m., CBS): Dubai; a profile of the late Mormon leader Gordon Hinckley.

¢ House and team use a remote camera to help a doctor (Mira Sorvino) at the South Pole on "House" (9 p.m., Fox, time approximate due to football).

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