Archive for Sunday, July 24, 2011

‘Same Name’ more absurd than amusing

July 24, 2011


There's a whole lot of same about "Same Name" (8 p.m., CBS). Saddled with a concept both obvious and belabored, it marries the premise of "Wife Swap" to the desperation of once-famous figures who will apparently do anything and go anywhere to remain visible.

In its debut, "Same Name" asks David Hasselhoff of "Baywatch" fame to trade lives and livelihoods with a man named David Hasselhoff from a small Texas town. The switch allows both men to make surprising discoveries.

The "Knight Rider" star always looks as if he's about to be surprised by something. The most ordinary things astound him. Accompanying his new clan to a Hasselhoff family reunion in rural Texas, he shines his megawatt smile and loudly inquires, "Are you all related?"

Self-awareness is hardly his strong suit. Over a simple dinner in his hosts' modest home, Hasselhoff regales everyone with tales of cheap real estate opportunities in Europe, most notably Croatia, where castles, he claims, can be had for a song.

For his part, the unknown Hasselhoff approaches newfound celebrity with a sense of wonderment and a voice and accent not unlike that of John C. Reilly in "Talladega Nights." He marvels at the size of the Hoff's bed and shower but feels decidedly lonely and homesick while shuffling solo about the empty mansion. A meeting with his namesake's manager is meant to impress him (and us) with the actor/singer's busy touring schedule, but a trip to a Hasselhoff fan club seems a little less than inspiring.

Not unlike CBS' other switcheroo series, "Undercover Boss," this variation on "The Prince and the Pauper" is intended to remind us that we're all just people after all, with common bonds of family, friends and neighbors. It's only the size of our checkbooks that distinguishes us. Not to give too much away, but an episode of "Extreme Makeover: Hasselhoff Edition" erupts about the third act.

• The theme of celebrity worship continues on the eighth and final season debut of "Entourage" (9:30 p.m., HBO). As Vince (Adrian Grenier) returns from rehab, his gang scrambles to clean the house of booze and drugs and to figure out how they will handle their new clean and sober friend and patron.

"Entourage" has always revolved around Vince's dubious claim to stardom and the knuckleheaded schemes of his hangers-on. But now the gang, and even the ruthless Ari (Jeremy Piven), seem to be walking on eggshells, setting the stage for some grown-up developments certain to break up the old (and aging) gang.

Tonight’s other highlights

• Scheduled on "60 Minutes" (6 p.m., CBS): Iraq's marsh people; New Orleans' mayor; South Africa's sharks.

• Scheduled on "Dateline" (6 p.m., NBC): Internet scams.

• Wax figures loom large on the 100th episode of "Man Caves" (7 p.m., DIY).

• An aristocrat's death is a puzzle on "Zen," starring Rufus Sewell, on "Masterpiece Mystery" (8 p.m., PBS).

• Sookie helps Eric on "True Blood" (8 p.m., HBO).

• Hal has doubts about Clayton on "Falling Skies" (9 p.m., TNT).


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