Archive for Friday, July 17, 2009

Undersea creature celebrates 10 years

July 17, 2009


Ten will get you 50 if you live in a pineapple under the sea. The 50-episode marathon of “SpongeBob SquarePants” (7 p.m., Nickelodeon, ending Sunday night) celebrates the 10th anniversary of a seriously silly cartoon that has been delighting children and entertaining their parents since 1999.

Ten years is a long time for a hit. To put it in perspective, “SpongeBob” debuted less than a year after “The Powerpuff Girls,” another wildly popular kids’ cartoon, licensing bonanza and pop-culture phenomenon. But the “Girls” pretty much faded mid-decade, while “SpongeBob” has flourished rather swimmingly.

“SpongeBob” now shares Fridays with two popular features that have endangered the very existence of the old-fashioned cartoon — CGI animation and sassy live-action “tween” sitcoms. But we’ll have to see whether “Penguins of Madagascar” (6 p.m., and 6:30 p.m., Nickelodeon) and “iCarly” (5 p.m. and 5:30 p.m., Nickelodeon) are still around in 2019.

• Speaking of pop trends you hope won’t last a decade, the TV movie “Wizards on Deck with Hannah Montana” (7 p.m., Disney) offers a crossover of three popular Disney series.

• I hate to break it to you ladies, but guys are genetically hard-wired to blow stuff up, break things or, better yet, throw them off a tall building and giggle as they smash to pieces a few seconds later. We like to see how far we can throw rocks and hold spitting contests. We don’t have any of our old toys to sell on eBay or “Antiques Roadshow” because we blew them up or set them on fire when we had the chance. We’re guys, and no matter how old, rich or educated we get, we’re 12 years old at heart.

It’s clear that the Science Channel has tapped into that Rosetta stone of guy-dom. That explains “Catch It Keep It” (9 p.m., Science). a new engineering/construction contest. The premise is simple. In the first episode, the host builds a ramp to run a motorcycle off a two-story building. If the challengers can rig up a system to save the bike, they get to keep it. If they don’t, we get to see it fly, crash, shatter and explode.

Every week, “Catch It” offers a new opportunity to watch something expensive get broken while celebrating know-how over mere destructiveness. But it includes way too much bickering and other social drama for the inner 12-year-old to endure. It also has one fatal flaw: This could easily be condensed into a half-hour show. Stunted guys like us just don’t have the attention span to sit through an hour-long challenge.

Tonight’s other highlights

• Grand opening day looms on “Chopping Block” (7 p.m., NBC).

• Star Jones and Jack Hanna guest star on “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? ” (7 p.m., Fox).

• Scheduled on “NOW” (7:30 p.m., PBS, check local listings): the long-term impact of Israel’s militarized society.

• A teen harbors dark thoughts on “Mental” (8 p.m., Fox).

• A physical exam challenges Carter’s self image on “Eureka” (8 p.m., SyFy).

• Scheduled on “20/20” (9 p.m., ABC): survivors of extraordinary experiences.

• “Martin Lawrence Presents 1st Amendment Stand-Up” (10 p.m., Starz) returns for a second season.

Cult choice

A jazz musician (James Darren) becomes obsessed with a woman who might be dead in the murky 1969 mystery “Venus in Furs” (1 a.m., TCM), co-starring Barbara McNair, Maria Rohm, Klaus Kinski and Manfred Mann.


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