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Archive for Friday, January 23, 2009

Comics collide: Pick ‘X-Men’ or ‘Batman’

January 23, 2009

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The comic-book rivalry between Marvel and DC moves to the small screen. “Wolverine and the X-Men” (7 p.m., Nicktoons) offers young viewers an hour-long introduction to an epic tale of mutant outcasts fighting for pride and survival against a cruel and despotic regime that uses them as a scapegoat to increase its control over society.

Like many stories in the Marvel canon, “Wolverine” marries adolescent angst with stories that are thinly disguised polemics. The graphic presentation combines a nod to realism with exaggerated body types (these are mutants, after all) and the wide-eyed romanticism of Japanese Anime.

Over on the Cartoon Network, the DC Comics style rules with “Batman: The Brave and the Bold” (7 p.m., Cartoon Network). Here, the colors are brilliant and the villains over-the-top, and the dialogue is laced with puns, innuendo and self-awareness.

While the “X-Men” stories appear aimed at the brooding tween, “Batman” exults in comic art for its own sake for viewers who have a sense of the absurd.

• Two short-lived network series return tonight. “Moonlight” (8 p.m., Sci Fi) airs at the same time it used to appear on CBS in 2007. Given the success of current vampire fare (“True Blood” and “Twilight”), it may have been a little ahead of its time. Or maybe it just wasn’t pretentious enough.

Just as the vampires on “True Blood” slake their blood-thirst on synthetics, Det. Mick St. John (Alex O’Loughlin) keeps a steady supply of hospital blood on hand.

He and an underworld of undead try to get by in a sleek American city where Mick works as a private eye. Perhaps the combination of genres proved too much for viewers, because this gothic whodunit did not survive to a second season.

But it lasted far longer than the 2005 ABC series “Invasion” (7 p.m., Sci Fi), a fantastic tale of aliens landing near the Everglades that had the misfortune of being the umpteenth supernatural mystery to launch that season in the wake of “Lost.”

It didn’t help to feature a pilot episode about a destructive Gulf Coast storm that debuted scant weeks after Hurricane Katrina. “Invasion” also suffered from a pace as glacial as its plot was convoluted.

Tonight’s other highlights

• Turner Classic Movies honors the late Ricardo Montalban with a marathon of films, beginning with the 1947 musical “Fiesta” (6:30 a.m., TCM) and concluding with “The Singing Nun” (5 p.m.) from 1966.

• A ruptured gravesite leads to a townwide haunting on “Ghost Whisperer” (7 p.m., CBS).

• A frightened basset hound needs the help of “The Dog Whisperer” (7 p.m., National Geographic).

• A former agent calls in a bomb threat on “Flashpoint” (8 p.m., CBS).

• Tami’s decision to forgo the JumboTron screen earns her a world of grief from parents who care only for football on “Friday Night Lights” (8 p.m., NBC).

• The search for an agent ends up in a Chinatown demimonde on “Numb3rs” (9 p.m., CBS).

• A bummed-out crew gets on with its business on “Battlestar Galactica” (9 p.m., Sci Fi).

Cult choice

The author of salacious books (Ann-Margret) discovers that she has a reputation to uphold in the 1966 comedy “The Swinger” (1 a.m. Saturday, TCM), co-starring Tony Franciosa.

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