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Archive for Thursday, June 16, 2011

Teens face fate worse than death on MTV

June 16, 2011

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Only on MTV would four teens facing imminent death (not to mention a dwindling supply of oxygen!) take time out for a chatty game of “Truth or Dare.” The made-for-TV drama “The Truth Below” (9 p.m., MTV) careens quite quickly from an innocent ski weekend to an avalanche. Trapped together, four photogenic types let their egos rage.

Jenna (Gillian Zinser) pouts because Dante (Nick Thurston), the alpha-male of the crew, doesn’t pay enough attention to her. Ethan (Reid Ewing) cracks wise and makes obnoxious gibes about his prowess and insinuates a casual intimacy with Jenna. You might recognize Ewing as Haley’s boyfriend Dylan from “Modern Family.” Liam (Ricky Mabe) is the mouse at the tea party, a wheezing asthmatic with mother issues to boot.

The game of true confessions hardly makes sense except as a means to propel the movie and inspire flashbacks and kill time between the avalanche and story’s resolution, a very long one hour later. And this being MTV, those confessions involve virginity, gang rape and the perverse invasion of privacy.

For all of its faults, “Truth” hews to at least one essential truth: Young people (at least in movies) may talk about sex all the time, but the subjects of chance encounters, destiny and the notion of an early poignant death are never very far from the surface. Even when you’re buried beneath a mountain of snow.

• A dusty crowded facility in Austin, Texas, becomes the setting for “Boxing Gym” (8 p.m., PBS, check local listings), the 2010 documentary study by Frederick Wiseman. This gym’s clientele appears to have as many women as men, and a fair amount of children as well as older men seeking the discipline of a boxer’s training.

As in other Wiseman films, the camera hovers over the proceedings like the proverbial fly on the wall, allowing viewers snippets of unfinished conversations and the trance-inducing repetitive action of sparring and training. At times it seems like “nothing” is happening, but an hour later you realize you’ve been submerged into a subculture all its own.

• TCM invites viewers to spend the night screaming along to drive-in shockers from the 1950s and ’60s, beginning with “Attack of the 50 Foot Woman” (7 p.m.) and concluding with “The Killer Shrews” (3:45 a.m.). Look for a young Ron Howard in “Village of the Giants” (8:30 p.m.) from 1965.

Tonight’s other highlights

• Two participants face elimination on “So You Think You Can Dance” (7 p.m., Fox).

• Shred and dead on “CSI” (8 p.m., CBS).

• A baptism by fire on “The Office” (8 p.m., NBC).

• Rachel wants to hit the reset button on “Glee” (8 p.m., Fox).

• A time capsule project requires reflection on “Parks and Recreation” (8:30 p.m., NBC).

• Laura Prepon guest stars on “Love Bites” (9 p.m., NBC).

• Forced back to port on “Swords: Life on the Line” (9 p.m. Discovery).

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