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Archive for Friday, March 7, 2008

Good, bad and ‘Coyote Ugly’

March 7, 2008

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How did we get to season three of "The Ultimate Coyote Ugly Search" (8 p.m., CMT)? Where did the time go? For the uninitiated, or deeply uninterested, Coyote Ugly refers to a saloon in New York made famous some 15 years ago for inviting women to dance provocatively on the bar, often wearing little more than their undergarments.

Some time back, this kind of entertainment was seen as a bit of a lark. Now it has to be dressed up, (I don't dare use the phrase "tarted up") in lingo worthy of Oprah or Dr. Phil. Apparently, it's life changing. It's "empowering." Ugly owner and franchiser Liliana Lovell tells her busload of wannabes that while they entered the contest as girls, "you will leave here as women."

¢ A cynical photographer documents the depraved world of Tokyo a decade after a world economic crash in the Japanese animated series "Speed Grapher" (10 p.m., IFC). Like a lot of anime material, "Speed" combines the violent with the cynical and the profound with the bizarre. But every time it just seems too dumb, adolescent and sexual content more creepy than sleazy, "Speed" surprises you with its breathtaking visuals, frantic pace and smart use of music.

¢ Could this be the worst PBS pledge month ever? Somebody out there must have liked "The Osmonds 50th Anniversary Special," but I've yet to meet him. I'm not knocking the Osmonds, but what do they or most pledge drive "stars" have to do with PBS?

As a critic and a viewer, I'm partial to "Frontline," "NOVA," "American Experience," "The News Hour" and most installments of "Masterpiece Theatre." So why would a fan of "Bleak House" want to watch the Osmonds sing "One Bad Apple"?

Public Radio pledge drives are often pretty dreary affairs. But they tend to work when they convince their listeners that they are supporting their favorite shows, those programs they would miss dearly if NPR wasn't around.

So why do PBS' pledge drives spend the month pretending they're not on PBS? Why would a fan of "Antiques Roadshow" or "Charlie Rose" want to sit through an infomercial featuring Gerry & the Pacemakers?

Do the pledge planners really think that we consider normal public broadcasting as spinach and fare such as "Yanni, Live from the Acropolis" as a treat? In ignoring their strengths and trying to entice us with such breathtakingly lame fare, the folks at PBS seem to have it exactly backward.

Tonight's other highlights

¢ The Amazons make their move on "Lemur Kingdom" (7:30 p.m., Animal Planet).

¢ Melinda takes on the most haunted house in town on "Ghost Whisperer" (8 p.m., CBS).

¢ House returns after recovering from gunshot wounds on "House" (8 p.m., Fox).

¢ An attempt to save a kidnapped heiress goes haywire on "Numb3rs" (9 p.m., CBS).

¢ Sheppard returns on "Stargate: Atlantis" (9 p.m., Sci Fi).

Cult choice

Male bonding looms large as a Colorado high school football squad fights off a Soviet-Cuban invasion in the 1984 fantasy "Red Dawn" (9:15 p.m., AMC).

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