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Archive for Thursday, June 26, 2008

Take a trip without leaving the couch

June 26, 2008

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I'm always a little suspicious of articles or headlines that begin with "We." If you really want to hype something, report it as fact and simply state that "we're" all doing it. "We're eating more beets, and we're loving it! And here's why!" Or so they say at the American Root Vegetable Association.

So it's with a little trepidation that I report that we're taking more weekend getaways. It's a fact. It's a trend. It's a show. "Samantha Brown: Passport to Great Weekends" (9 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., Travel) reports on the growing popularity of mini-vacations.

Apparently, this trend has something to do with Americans' working more and vacationing less. We (there "we" go again) just don't have time for the traditional week or two weeks off. So "we" take our pleasures when we can and squeeze them into 48- or even 36-hour portions. "Passport" will devote a half-hour to various "weekend-able" destinations, including Austin, Texas (9:30 p.m.), New Orleans, Orlando, New York City, and, of course, Las Vegas (9 p.m).

This program appears to have been produced before the recent spike in fuel prices and the changes in the airline industry. So perhaps "we" can enjoy "Passport" as a vicarious thrill. "We're" armchair travelers now!

¢ OK, not all of us are staying home. According to the special "Untold Wealth: The Rise of the Super Rich" (9 p.m., CNBC), the number of billionaires in the United States increased from 13 in 1985 to more than 1,000 today. That super-elite caste has created a parallel world of luxury. They own multiple homes, employ vast armies of domestic staff and enjoy a life that some have described as the hallmarks of a new Gilded Age.

¢ The compelling 2007 documentary "Darkon" (6:15 p.m., IFC) follows adults who play medieval live-action role-playing fantasy games. Since 1985, more than 150 men and women have devoted two weekends a month to playing fictional characters, establishing their own kingdoms and creeds and doing "battle" with rival realms on the soccer fields and playing grounds of suburban Baltimore.

Less-generous filmmakers would poke fun at the players and their pastime, but makers of "Darkon" present their world without narration or judgment. They allow the players and participants to discuss the role of fantasy in their lives and the joys of being "in character" in a world where their out-of-character jobs and circumstances may not allow them to feel in control.

Tonight's other highlights

¢ Richard Belzer and Steve Schirripa return as talent scouts as "Last Comic Standing" (7 p.m., NBC) goes to Las Vegas.

¢ Betty and Henry go on a date to a Broadway show on "Ugly Betty" (7 p.m., ABC).

¢ Hodges stages a curious drill on "CSI" (8 p.m., CBS).

¢ A weekend getaway goes from snug to suffocating on "Swingtown" (9 p.m., CBS).

¢ "Psych" stars James Roday and Maggie Lawson appear in an installment of the horror anthology "Fear Itself" (9 p.m., NBC), about a bride on her honeymoon who learns that her new husband might be a serial killer. John Landis ("An American Werewolf in London") directs.

Cult choice

Rocker Rob Zombie directed "House of 1000 Corpses" (8 p.m., IFC), a 2003 salute to cheap 1970s horror films.

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