Saturday nights a TV mishmash
Like some fearsome deity, the Internet age has been both a creator and destroyer of cultural pleasures. Sure, we’re happy that we can order books and music and movies online, but some of us miss the simple pleasure of browsing in a used-book shop, searching for records in a music store or discovering a cult classic at the video arcade. I miss such mindless meanderings and the chance to happen upon things great or terrible, but always unexpected.
Saturday-night channel surfing may be the closest thing we have to that kind of pop-culture rummage sale. And tonight is rich in odd, unfamiliar and barely commercial offerings, some featuring familiar stars.
¢ Meg Ryan, Colin Hanks, Selma Blair and Antonio Banderas star in something called “My Mom’s New Boyfriend” (8 p.m., today, Lifetime), about an FBI agent (Hanks) forced to spy on his mother (Ryan) when she begins dating a suspected art thief.
¢ “Melrose Place” and “One Tree Hill” star Daphne Zuniga stars in “Mail Order Bride” (8 p.m., today, Hallmark) as a 19th-century conwoman who flees her possessive boss (Greg Evigan) by stealing the identity of a dead friend who happens to be the expected mail-order bride of a Wyoming prospector. This is a Hallmark movie, so don’t go looking for the grim realism of “Deadwood.” The film features plenty of scenes of Zuniga looking distinctly uncomfortable in the corsets and bustles of the period. In a network interview, Zuniga applauds the women of the past for rebelling against such confining finery. “I am a fan of breathing,” declares Zuniga.
¢ The Sci Fi Channel has long recognized Saturday nights as the home for movies that might otherwise have gone direct to video. Tonight’s offering, “Yeti” (8 p.m., today, Sci Fi), combines tales of the abominable snowman with the “Alive” saga. After a plane crash strands a college football team on a Himalayan mountain, the guys must contend with cold, wind, hunger and the rampages of a legendary creature.
¢ The fake Australian documentary series “Summer Heights High” (9:30 p.m., HBO, Sunday) stars series writer and creator Chris Lilley in three very different roles. He’s Jonah, a delusional bully; Ja’mie, a female exchange student from a posh private school; and Mr. G, a high-strung drama teacher very impressed with his own genius and popularity.
The Mr. G character owes much to Christopher Guest’s Corky St. Clair in the 1996 comedy “Waiting for Guffman.” In fact, “Summer Heights” seems like an imported imitation of other better mock-umentaries done at least 10 years back. HBO viewers expect more originality from their network. And they pay for the privilege.
¢ The gang goes to Japan on a movie-length episode of “iCarly” (7 p.m., Nickelodeon).
¢ Scheduled on “48 Hours Mystery” (9 p.m., CBS): a Vegas dancer expires.
¢ “Nature” (7 p.m., PBS) discusses new discoveries in ways monkeys create a culture.
¢ Dad has doubts about Hannah’s behind-the-wheel skills on “Hannah Montana” (7 p.m., Disney).
¢ The documentary series “Ruby” (7 p.m., Style) follows an obese woman as she tries to lose weight and save her life.