Archive for Wednesday, June 16, 2010

TV Land creates sitcom that’s old, new and ‘Hot’

June 16, 2010


Because reality television has long since dried up the supply of recyclable repeats, TV Land presents a nostalgia-soaked sitcom of its own. And “Hot in Cleveland” (9 p.m., TV Land) -- a combination of “Golden Girls” and “Designing Women” -- more than works. The only thing missing is a catchy theme song that sums it up.

Three Los Angeles pals (Valerie Bertinelli, Wendie Malick and Jane Leeves) are forced to land after their flight to Paris is rattled by turbulence. Stranded in Cleveland, the trio find themselves in a regular bar very far from the finicky ways of Hollywood. Men look at them, and women actually eat.

Enchanted by this peculiar paradise, Melanie (Bertinelli) chucks Paris and Los Angeles and rents a big house for the month. And this being a sitcom, the place comes with an elderly housekeeper (Betty White) dispensing wisecracks.

The concept may be borrowed, but the dialogue is snappy. Leeves and Malick are firing on all cylinders here, and Bertinelli does the best she can as the middle-aged romantic. And we’ve all reached an age when White can say anything and get a laugh.

• There’s little fabulous about “The Fabulous Beekman Boys” (8 p.m., Planet Green). And that’s a good thing. I hate “fabulous” and the boring cliches the word entails.

Recycling a story as old as “The Egg and I” from 1947, “Beekman” follows two successful men from Manhattan as they try to make it as gentlemen farmers in the lush countryside of upstate New York.

Josh is a former drag performer who was raised on a farm. Brent practiced medicine before working with Martha Stewart. “Fabulous” mines some comedy from barnyard antics, but most of the show concerns the hard work, sacrifices and compromises necessary to make a farm, and a partnership, function. And not just any farm. Brent takes his Martha Stewart training and tries to brand the place and all of the products. This doesn’t sit will with Josh, who has seen Brent take his dream of a relaxing country home and turn it into a big corporate production. More “Scenes from a Marriage” than fun on a farm, “Fabulous” is often fascinating.

• “Great Performances” (8 p.m., PBS, check local listings) presents “La Danse -- Le Ballet de l’Opera de Paris.” Documentary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman offers a fly-on-the-wall look at the acclaimed dance company. We see practice, rehearsals and performance. We visit the cafeteria. Directors quibble over a party for benefactors. Costumes are sewn, bejeweled, laundered, and ironed. Workmen fix a crack in the ceiling. Most of this unfolds in French accompanied by subtitles.

Like most Wiseman films, “Danse” is long, often rapturously beautiful and bewilderingly meandering. At times, it’s maddening. For all of its minutiae, it adds up to something transcendent and unforgettable.

Tonight’s other highlights

• Chris Matthews looks at the “Rise of the New Right” (6 p.m., MSNBC).

• “Top Chef: DC” (8 p.m., Bravo) premieres.

• Grandpa arrives on “Modern Family” (8 p.m., ABC).

• The “30 for 30” (9 p.m., ESPN) documentary “June 17, 1994” looks at the remarkable confluence of sporting events obscured by O.J. Simpson’s infamous Bronco ride.

• Adam and Jamie look back on “Mythbusters Top 25 Moments” (8 p.m., Discovery).

• Kathy Griffin cameos on “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” (9 p.m., NBC).

• Grim evidence implicates John on “Happy Town” (9 p.m., ABC).


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