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Archive for Thursday, June 30, 2011

Ugly’ fails to scare up many laughs

June 30, 2011

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Sometimes the most shocking way to get laughs is to make the bizarre seem banal. As I said, sometimes. It worked for "The Munsters." But perhaps "Ugly Americans" (9:30 p.m., Comedy Central), the animated series now entering its second season, tries a tad too hard.

For the uninitiated, "Ugly" takes place in a fantasy New York, where a "diverse" population includes every kind of zombie, alien, robot, monster, wizard and minion from hell.

Protagonist Mark Lilly (Matt Oberg) works in the city's Department of Integration, where newcomers are assimilated. His supervisor is a fetching and shapely demon who is much smarter than most of the soldiers in Satan's dark army. Incompetence and comedic understatement abound in a season opener about a demonic assault on a wizards convention. The efforts to meld 1980s summer-camp fantasy comedies with the Harry Potter movies are more odd than amusing. Then again, that pretty much sums up "Ugly Americans" itself.

• Add television's most overworked adjective to its most glutted genre and you've got "Extreme Chef" (9 p.m., Food). Cooks are pushed to mental and physical limits in contrived situations overseen by host Marsh Mokhtari.

It's not enough to cook well (or to show viewers how to cook, the primary reason most people used to watch the Food Network). Three contestants prepare meals while using an automobile engine as a makeshift stove or swimming across a lake for a key ingredient. The winner gets the title of "Extreme Chef" and a $10,000 prize. The audience has to endure watching a really terrible idea put into practice.

• As the combination of "super" and "epic" must imply, the emphasis in "E! Special Countdowns: 50 Super Epic TV Moments" (8 p.m., E!) is on ephemeral, silly and recent examples of vapid, vulgar and Kardashian-like behavior. I have not seen the entire "Super Epic" list, but none of the samples I've been shown dates back further than 2010.

Tonight’s other highlights

• Two go home on "So You Think You Can Dance" (7 p.m., Fox).

• A casino shark attack ends one guest's winning streak on "CSI" (8 p.m., CBS).

• Michael awaits Holly's big decision on "The Office" (8 p.m., NBC).

• Gwyneth Paltrow and John Stamos guest-star on "Glee" (8 p.m., Fox).

• Kayaking challenges on "Expedition Impossible" (8 p.m., ABC).

• Leslie promotes the harvest festival on "Parks and Recreation" (8:30 p.m., NBC).

• A witness-protection scheme backfires on Van Pelt on "The Mentalist" (9 p.m., CBS).

• Beau Bridges guest-stars on "Love Bites" (9 p.m., NBC).

• An undercover buy-and-bust goes badly for Andy and Gail on "Rookie Blue" (9 p.m., ABC).

• Mind games on "Burn Notice" (8 p.m., USA).

• Repeats of "Titans" (CNBC) profile casino rivals Donald Trump (8 p.m.) and the late Merv Griffin (9 p.m.).

• The meter's always running on "The First 48" (8 p.m., A&E) and its spinoff, "The First 48: Missing Persons" (9 p.m., A&E).

• Ryan makes a move to know his neighbor on "Wilfred" (9 p.m., FX).

• Memorable moments on "Louie" (9:30 p.m., FX).

• A big mistake on "Suits" (9 p.m., USA).

Cult choice

Adults seem more frightened of teenagers than an alien invader in the 1958 classic "The Blob" (7 p.m., TCM), starring Steve McQueen.

Series notes

A collectible object of desire on "The Big Bang Theory" (7 p.m., CBS) ... Troy's birthday on "Community" (7 p.m., NBC) ... "Wipeout" (7 p.m., ABC) ... Katherine's new conquest on "Vampire Diaries" (7 p.m., CW).

Timmy joins a singing group on "Rules of Engagement" (7:30 p.m., CBS) ... Liz suggests that Jack come clean with his mother on "30 Rock" (7:30 p.m., NBC).

Nikita discovers news about her fiance's killer on "Nikita" (8 p.m., CW) ... "Expedition Impossible" (8 p.m., ABC).

Late night

Bill Kristol is scheduled on "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" (10 p.m., Comedy Central) ... Tom Hanks and Myron Mixon appear on "Conan" (10 p.m., TBS) ... Timothy Garton Ash sits down on "The Colbert Report" (10:30 p.m., Comedy Central).

Julia Roberts and Cake are scheduled on "Late Show With David Letterman" (10:35 p.m., CBS) ... Jay Leno welcomes Kirstie Alley, Erik Rivera and Il Volo on "The Tonight Show" (10:35 p.m., NBC) ... Patrick Dempsey, Tom Papa and David Cook appear on "Lopez Tonight" (11 p.m., TBS) ... Shia LaBeouf, Ashley Benson and 311 appear on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" (11 p.m., ABC).

Glenn Close, Zoe Kravitz, Jeff Musial and Joe Jackson chat on "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon" (11:35 p.m., NBC) ... Craig Ferguson hosts Henry Winkler and Mike Massimino on "The Late Late Show" (11:37 p.m., CBS).

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