Archive for Friday, February 18, 2011

Dan Aykroyd, Rosie O’Donnell return to prime-time TV

February 18, 2011


A curious case of sweeps stunt casting brings back gruesome memories of one of the worst movies in recent memory. Dan Aykroyd guests stars as a wayward judge on “The Defenders” (7 p.m., CBS). Meanwhile Rosie O’Donnell climbs her family tree on “Who Do You Think You Are” (7 p.m., NBC).

Aykroyd and O’Donnell co-starred in the 1994 “comedy” “Exit to Eden” as police officers sent to infiltrate the world of sexual bondage and sadomasochism. The results were not pretty. If the sight of the two actors trussed up in leather didn’t empty theaters, the failed attempts at “sexy” slapstick did.

• The past and future of advertising unfolds on “The Selling Game” (8 p.m. CNBC). According to the experts convened here, TV advertising used to be “easy.” Gosh, Don Draper and the gang on “Mad Men” make it seem like something out of a Dostoyevsky novel. But I digress. As veteran ad man Peter Sealey recalls, “In the mid-1960s I could reach 80 percent of women in the United States with three daytime black-and-white commercials.” But with today’s fractured media landscape, Sealy estimates that it would require “97 prime-time 30-second ads” to reach that many consumers.

Throw in TiVO and DVRs, Netflix, video games and other media, and you’d think advertisers would be pulling their hair out. But according to “Selling,” the art and sorcery of commercial persuasion has entered a new golden age. It explains how social and digital media, cable TV and other gadgets have handed marketers even more powerful tools to reach much more targeted markets.

• Television is obsessed with “cold cases.” From “America’s Most Wanted” to “CSI” to, well, “Cold Case,” viewers have long found entertainment and a form of vicarious “closure” in seeing killers brought to justice after years and decades on the loose.

“The Injustice Files” (8 p.m., Investigation Discovery) reopens some of the most violent racially motivated crimes of the civil right era, a time when black men were being murdered for simply being in the wrong place, or for having the temerity to assert their rights and refusing to “know their place.”

Filmmaker Keith Beauchamp joins forces with FBI agents, and state and local authorities, to comb old records, knock on doors and dig up memories of horrific murders from past decades.

Tonight’s other highlights

• The search for a creative spark in Carlstadt, N.J., on “Kitchen Nightmares” (7 p.m., Fox).

• The squad feels conflicted after a rapist appears to have received a taste of his own sick medicine on “CSI: NY” (8 p.m., CBS).

• A fringe binge ends in mourning on “Fringe” (8 p.m., Fox).

• Danny hunts for Frank’s would-be shooter on “Blue Bloods” (9 p.m., CBS).

• “Gold Rush: Alaska” (9 p.m., Discovery) ends its first season with winter weather on the horizon.

• Batiatus’ father organizes a spectacle on “Spartacus” (9 p.m., Starz).


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.