Archive for Friday, October 8, 2010

‘Parker/Spitzer’ sets frantic pace

October 8, 2010


In a world of good television, bad television and weird television, the new talk show “Parker/Spitzer” (7 p.m., CNN) is more weird than bad. But that’s subject to change.

The highly promoted series teams columnist Kathleen Parker with disgraced former N.Y. governor Eliot Spitzer to discuss current personalities, events and issues and interview guests. He’s from the left, she’s from the right, and they don’t scream at each other. The show is clearly designed to appeal to viewers tired of Bill O’Reilly’s angry didacticism or the frequently pompous snark of Keith Olbermann. To many, “The Factor” and “Countdown” have become competing versions of the Mickey Mouse Club, where members go to feel good and never have their opinions challenged.

What it lacks in heat, “Parker/Spitzer” compensates with an awkward, adrenalized tone. The hosts sit entirely too close together. You half expect them to sit in each other’s laps and finish each other’s sentences. And when the guests arrive, they also seem to be crammed up against Parker and Spitzer.

Guests, issues and ideas arrive and depart with great rapidity here. It’s rather hard to keep up. It makes one appreciate O’Reilly’s so-called “Talking Points.” They may be painful to watch, but at least O’Reilly is making a point. “Parker/ Spitzer” too often comes off like very nervous chatter.

To be fair, I’m not sure Eliot Spitzer can talk any other way. He’s obviously bright and sure of himself in ways that bring the word “arrogant” to mind. Parker tries to provide contrast by playing the coy and demure Southern lady, hiding her ideological shiv in a bouquet of gardenias.

But as he probably has done his entire life, Spitzer sets the tone. And unless he switches to decaf, or some stronger mood equalizer, “Parker/Spitzer” will remain simply too frantic to endure.

• How do you make it in Hollywood? It helps when you have family in the business. Grace Gummer (Meryl Streep’s daughter) and Gia Mantegna (Joe Mantegna’s daughter) star in the new series “Gigantic” (9 p.m., Teen Nick) as kids trying to navigate the perilous waters of having A-list Hollywood parents. Now that should test their acting abilities.

Viewers who want a theme night can start off with “The Good Guys,” starring Tom Hank’s son Colin.

• It’s not just the children of big stars who get to be on television. Their pets have an inside track, too! Howie Mandel brings his misbehaving dog to Cesar Millan on the seventh-season premiere of “Dog Whisperer” (7 p.m., National Geographic).

• Media, criminal justice and the death penalty take center stage in the documentary “Final Justice” (9 p.m., Investigation Discovery).

Tonight’s other highlights

• Scanlon’s dreams disturb Allison on “Medium” (7 p.m., CBS).

• A lockdown seals the hospital on “House” (7 p.m., Fox).

• A scene of domestic violence is more than it seems on “CSI:NY” (8 p.m., CBS)

• A tip from a child leads to a dangerous moment on “The Good Guys” (8 p.m., Fox).

• A rape suspect claims diplomatic immunity on “Blue Bloods” (9 p.m., CBS).

• Garza’s team takes on an auto giant on “Outlaw” (9 p.m., NBC).

• The class tackles “Of Mice and Men” on “Teach: Tony Danza” (9 p.m., A&E;).


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