Archive for Monday, August 17, 2009

‘Glenn Martin, DDS’ as funny as root canal

August 17, 2009

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A reinvention of the family sitcom, “Glenn Martin, DDS” (7 p.m., Nickelodeon) replaces actors with stop-motion animated characters voiced by known performers, including Kevin Nealon and Catherine O’Hara.

“Martin” is probably best appreciated for its interesting credits. It’s the first series to come from Tornante Animation, run by longtime Disney chief, Michael Eisner.

Glenn Martin (Nealon) is the traditional dimwit dad, barely tolerated by his “Sex and the City”-obsessed wife (O’Hara) or acknowledged by his kids, who include an immature 13-year-old boy and a ruthlessly entrepreneurial adolescent girl with her own personal assistant (Judy Greer).

Free of laughs, but not of a laugh track, the first episode, about a family road trip, borrows heavily from “National Lampoon’s Family Vacation.” Nealon, who can be seen as a poor man’s Chevy Chase, does his animated best to breathe life into his hand-me-down Clark Griswold character.

After Glenn tries to wean his children from their electronic gadgets, the family gets stranded in an Amish village, where they repay local hospitality by ridiculing their hosts and then corrupting and disrupting their simple way of life. The lesson seems to be, people who aren’t addicted to money, shopping malls, and video games are freaks and losers.

This “edgy” story would be slightly less horrible if any of the characters were remotely likable. Or if the animation were not so aggressively ugly. Michael Eisner appears to have lost his Tinker Bell touch.

• “Fixer: The Taking of Ajmal Naqshbandi” (8 p.m., HBO) pays homage to local translators and guides who help western journalists follow a dangerous story in Afghanistan, and who risk their lives to do so.

• One couldn’t help but think that the only upside to a real estate depression might be to drive a stake through the heart of the vapid house-selling docudrama genre. But alas, “Flipping Out” (9 p.m., Bravo) returns for a new season.

Tonight’s other highlights

• Mos Def guest stars as a patient trapped in an unresponsive state on a memorable episode of “House” (7 p.m., Fox).

• The New York Giants host the Carolina Panthers in exhibition NFL action (7 p.m., ESPN).

• Seen Friday on VH1, “Woodstock: Then and Now” (7 p.m., History) recalls three days of mud and music distilled through four decades of metaphor.

• Scheduled on “History Detectives” (8 p.m., PBS, check local listings): an artifact linked to Mussolini.

• The witty car culture series “Top Gear” (8 p.m., BBC America) returns for a seventh season.

• Brenda investigates a school shooting “The Closer” (8 p.m., TNT).

Cult choice

• A private affair (between Jennifer Jones and Montgomery Clift) becomes a public scandal in an Italian train station in the 1953 melodrama “Indiscretion of an American Wife” (10:30 a.m., TCM), directed by Vittorio de Sica.

Series notes

On two episodes of “How I Met Your Mother” (CBS), a new approach (7 p.m.), snowed in (7:30 p.m.) … Families go west on “Great American Road Trip” (7 p.m., NBC) … Regis Philbin hosts “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” (7 p.m., ABC) … When lips meet on “One Tree Hill” (7 p.m., CW). Dating blind on “Two and a Half Men” (8 p.m., CBS). Murder finds a man freed on a technicality on “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” (8 p.m., NBC)

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