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Archive for Tuesday, June 9, 2009

‘Mental’ stint marks sad coincidence

June 9, 2009

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Television schedules are no strangers to sad coincidences. At the time this column was filed, Fox had scheduled an episode of “Mental” (8 p.m., Fox) guest-starring David Carradine as a patient whose condition inspires Dr. Jack to undertake some seriously old-school and unorthodox methods.

As many know, Carradine died last week. The son of John Carradine (“The Grapes of Wrath”) and brother to Keith (“Nashville”), he is best known to TV viewers from his days on the mystic martial-arts series “Kung Fu” from the 1970s. Over the decades, he reprised, referenced and parodied that role on shows, movies and commercials. Carradine made the most of a stoic style that enabled him to approach the mystic with either sincerity or with tongue planted firmly in cheek. In recent years, he appeared in too many fantasy films to mention and guest-starred on TV series, including “Medium,” “Charmed” and “Alias.”

• We live in odd times when citizens can still go to prison for possessing marijuana but TV networks present programming specifically aimed at stoned viewers. Or viewers who wish they were.

A lot of Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim lineup seems aimed at that demographic, and now IFC asks viewers to inhale deeply with “Food Party” (10:15 p.m., IFC), a jarring, seemingly homemade project featuring self-described fringe artist Thu Tran. “Food” airs directly following “Ideal” (10 p.m.), a British comedy about an obese pot dealer.

The sets and many characters seem directly inspired by the 1980s Saturday-morning show “Pee-wee’s Playhouse.” Tran “acts” amid a colorful kitchen where food, flatwear and appliances all share the potential to come alive and interact with the host’s deadpan character. In tonight’s episode, Tran gets married to herself, a story line seemingly lifted from a vintage “Pee-wee’s Playhouse” episode in which the bow-tied host tied the knot with a fruit cocktail.

Purposely childish and self-consciously unfunny, “Food Party” should be seen at least once. But beware, like other illicit activities, this exercise in brain-cell shedding could become habit-forming.

• A repeat “Frontline” (8 p.m., PBS, check local listings) from 2006, “The Tank Man” recalls the student and worker protests in China’s Tiananmen Square in early June 1989 and that nation’s uneasy balancing act between economic liberty and political repression.

Tonight’s other highlights

• Paris Hilton, Ken Jeong and Blink 182 appear on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” (7 p.m., ABC), prior to the NBA Finals.

• Thirteen’s private laundry is aired on “House” (7 p.m., Fox).

• Orlando hosts Los Angeles in Game 3 of the NBA Finals (8 p.m., ABC).

• “Deadliest Catch” (8 p.m., Discovery) features unbearable weather in the Bering Sea.

• A preacher is held in his wife’s murder on “48 Hours Mystery” (9 p.m., CBS).

• Events force Mike and Tommy to cooperate on “Rescue Me” (9 p.m., FX).

• Dean’s high-octane lifestyle continues on “Tori and Dean: Home Sweet Hollywood” (9 p.m., Oxygen).

Cult choice

Abandoned by an entire town, a sheriff (Gary Cooper) defies near-certain death to go about his duties in the 1952 Western “High Noon” (7 p.m., TCM).

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