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Archive for Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Eartha to KITT: Self-destruct now!

September 24, 2008

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A year after the botched "Bionic Woman" remake, NBC returns with "Knight Rider" (7 p.m., NBC). There's nothing more annoying than a TV show that can't make up its mind. The new incarnation of "Knight Rider" vacillates between near parody and earnest thriller. After 15 minutes of nonstop action, it bogs down in a needless back story about switched identities and post-Iraq-war traumatic-stress syndrome. It's a mess.

Justin Bruening brings a suitably blank aplomb to his role as Mike, the super-spy driver of KITT, a Transformers-like car with a brain and voice provided by Val Kilmer. KITT speaks with the computer monotone of HAL from "2001: A Space Odyssey" and the irrefutable logic of Mr. Spock from "Star Trek." The conversations between the two occasionally border on the droll but could be much better.

Mike reports to some furtive agency located in a cave, or something, and populated by an odd and uneven bunch. A third of the agents appear to be gung-ho, another third are possible turncoats, and at least two are thrown in to make bad puns about sex and describe everything KITT does as "awesome."

KITT's acrobatics are nothing computer graphics haven't shown us before. KITT's a bit of a stiff, but it's still the most credible and three-dimensional character on the show.

¢ "Gary Unmarried" (7:30 p.m., CBS) stars Jay Mohr as a recently divorced father and painting contractor trying to navigate his suddenly single lifestyle. In the logic of bad sitcoms, Gary wakes up in the first scene with a gorgeous woman with whom he shares awkwardly written yet predictable morning-after chatter. Their idyll is shattered by the arrival of his dreary former wife with two children in tow.

"Gary" suffers from both uninspired writing and fatal miscasting. Mohr would be a natural as sympathetic male character's randy sidekick or wandering brother-in-law. He's just not believable or terribly likable as Gary, married or otherwise. Look for Ed Begley Jr. in a more understandable role as a wimpy marriage counselor who can barely park his bicycle.

¢ The season opener of "The New Adventures of Old Christine" (7 p.m., CBS) manages to graft subplots about immigration and gay marriage and make them both seem rather uninspired and old hat. A victim of scheduling fits and starts, this series appears to have wilted before many had the chance to watch it.

¢ An illusionist hangs upside down from a wire for days on end on "David Blaine: Dive of Death" (8 p.m., ABC). It should be "Diva of Death."

Tonight's season premieres

¢ Terrorism returns to New York on "Criminal Minds" (8 p.m., CBS).

¢ Mac wakes up with a sinking feeling on "CSI: NY" (9 p.m., CBS).

¢ Nico mulls a true confession on "Lipstick Jungle" (9 p.m., NBC).

Tonight's other highlights

¢ A headless victim tops Brennan's priorities on "Bones" (7 p.m., Fox).

¢ "Flight of the Jet Man" (8 p.m., National Geographic) documents an unusual attempt to cross the English Channel.

¢ The top five on "America's Got Talent" (8 p.m., NBC).

¢ "American Masters" (8 p.m., PBS, check local listings) continues its history of Warner Bros. studio "You Must Remember This."

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