Archive for Saturday, September 27, 2008

Depravity bores on ‘Brothers’

September 27, 2008

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One of the true guilty pleasures to arise out of last year's strike-shortened season, ABC's "Dirty Sexy Money" returns for a second helping on Oct. 1. To get fans and those who missed it up to speed, Soapnet will air the entire first season in a "Dirty Sexy Marathon" from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday.

"Dirty" stars Peter Krause as the son of the lawyer to the Darling family who reluctantly assumes the position after his father's accidental death. This puts him in charge of a playpen of tycoons with no boundaries. Donald Sutherland shines as the Darling patriarch. The cast also includes William Baldwin and Jill Clayburgh.

Set in the gilded cages of Manhattan's moneyed class, "Dirty" makes no pretense at emotional realism. The same can't be said for ABC's other family drama "Brothers & Sisters" (9 p.m., Sunday, ABC), returning for a third season Sunday night.

Matriarch Nora Walker (Sally Field) presides over an expansive (and expanding) brood of Walker siblings, good-looking adults who, like the "Dirty" Darlings or the "Dallas" Ewings, just can't stay out of one another's lives or business.

The episode opens with a long and flowery voiceover of Sarah (Rachel Griffiths) reading a letter of recommendation to Kitty's (Calista Flockhart) adoption agency.

This letter is just a ripple in the geyser of articulate verbiage that makes for Walker-family conversation.

It is supposed to be hip and contemporary, but I can't watch "Brothers & Sisters" and not be reminded of my reaction to old sitcoms like "Father Knows Best." Those shows were so fake that they were hilarious.

The problems on "Brothers & Sisters" don't get solved right away, but those Walkers seem to confront their faults with the zeal of a patient paying a therapist $400 an hour.

The relentless self-awareness of these siblings, and their insistence on discussing their feelings, is both exhausting and tedious.

But "Brothers & Sisters" hardly has the market cornered on unreality. And they prove that depravity can be as boring as anything else.

¢ "Californication" (9 p.m., Showtime) enters its second season. David Duchovny stars as a novelist who is catnip to women half his age. In the first episode, he undergoes a vasectomy and is told to avoid sex for 48 hours. In the logic of this "comedy," that is a bridge too far.

On a similar theme, the smug, poorly drawn and depressingly unfunny new animated series "The Life & Times of Tim" (10 p.m., HBO) opens with a scenario about Tim, who hires a prostitute while his girlfriend goes to the airport to pick up her parents. They return early, with awkward results. Help yourself if you think that's funny.

¢ "Little Britain, USA" (9:30 p.m., HBO) offers an Americanized version of a popular U.K. comedy show consisting largely of men dressed as women saying outrageously rude things. A little of "Little" goes a long way, particularly when it involves bits like a man dressed as a Girl Scout Brownie discussing pornography with her mother (or a man dressed as her mother).

"Crossroads" (7 p.m., CMT) offers a joint concert by 38 Special and Trace Adkins. These events combine musical cross-pollination, mutual admiration and popular hits from both artists, including 38 Special's "Hold On Loosely" and "Rockin' Into the Night," and Trace Adkins' "Honky Tonk Badonkadonk" and "Ladies Love Country Boys."

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