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Archive for Saturday, October 17, 2009

‘Sorority’ sisters unstuck in time

October 17, 2009

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“Sorority Wars” (8 p.m., today and Sunday, Lifetime) is neither a horror movie nor a work of science fiction, but it seems to have been created in a parallel universe. Courtney Thorne-Smith (“According to Jim” and Faith Ford (“Murphy Brown”) star as grown-up sorority sisters eager to meddle in their daughters’ campus affairs.

For reasons unknown, freshman Katie (Lucy Hale), the daughter of Thorne-Smith’s character, is the most sought-after “pledge” on campus. So it’s a rather big deal when she appears to hedge on her future as a Delta (Mom’s house) and contemplates joining their rivals, the Kappas. For those keeping score, the Deltas are mean, spiteful, near-identical blondes who wear pink and appear to be grooming themselves for a future as the first wives of junior executives. The Kappas seem cooler, shaggier and brunette, destined to become programmers for a women’s cable network.

A tale of spunk and individuality in the face of conformity and peer pressure, “Sorority” has an oddly timeless quality about it. At one point, an arrogant fraternity type accuses Katie of pursuing her “Mrs.” degree, a term not heard since Rock Hudson and Doris Day ruled the box office. Who says the Greek system doesn’t protect tradition?

• “The Simpsons” (7 p.m., Sunday, Fox) celebrates an anniversary, broadcasting its 20th annual “Treehouse of Horror” Halloween special. According to “Simpsons” lore, creator Matt Groening agreed to make a series for the brand-new Fox network only if they promised to never interfere with the show’s production. And it’s that creative license that has kept “The Simpsons” surprisingly smart, fresh and relevant two decades into its run, long after “Herman’s Head” and other early Fox fare receded from memory.

For the record, this year’s “Treehouse” offers a clever parody pastiche of Alfred Hitchcock movies, a send-up of all things zombie and a “Sweeney Todd”-like musical about Moe’s unrequited ardor for Marge. Neither the best nor the worst of the “Treehouse” offerings, I couldn’t help feeling that “XX” would have been improved with the presence of Ned Flanders and more Mr. Burns.

• The makers of “Viva Blackpool” and “Life on Mars” turn their attention to recent history with “Occupation” (7 p.m., Sunday, BBC America), a gritty documentary-style series about British soldiers who rolled in to the city of Basra during the opening hours of the 2003 Iraq invasion and how the war follows them as they return to civilian life.

Today’s highlights

• Anna Paquin, David Mitchell, Robert Webb and Paolo Nutini appear on “The Graham Norton Show” (9 p.m., BBC America).

• Gerard Butler hosts “Saturday Night Live” (10:30 p.m., NBC), featuring musical guest Shakira.

Sunday’s highlights

• Scheduled on “60 Minutes” (6 p.m., CBS): the H1N1 virus; a cancer survivor’s invention, Drew Barrymore.

• A feud erupts with Rosie O’Donnell on “Curb Your Enthusiasm” (8 p.m., HBO)

• “Witness to Waco” (9 p.m., MSNBC) recalls the 1993 siege of a religious cult’s compound.

• Peggy plays hardball on “Mad Men” (9 p.m., AMC).

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