Archive for Wednesday, September 7, 2011

‘Paranormal Witness’ more tedium than medium

September 7, 2011


Syfy adds to its reality ghost-story block with “Paranormal Witness” (9 p.m.). Any confusion with the hit movie “Paranormal Activity” is strictly intentional.

Shot in eerie color drained of vitality in post- production, the pilot episode relates the tale of two harried parents haunted and abused by their daughter’s violent “imaginary friend.” More than a few bumps in the night ensue, and by the end, the “friend” named Emily appears to be flinging objects and bodies around the house when she’s not possessing residents. The parents should have known something was wrong when they got such a good deal on the house. Don’t go looking for this place to show up on “Curb Appeal.”

Unlike “Paranormal Activity,” a scary movie shot on a shoestring budget, “Witness” has all of the hallmarks of bad reality TV. It’s overlong, slow, frequently repetitive and ultimately more boring than frightening.

• “Rescue Me” (9 p.m., FX) wraps up with an extended series finale. The critic in me says it’s two or three seasons too late. But if they gave awards for satisfying, entertaining and moving series-enders that are completely in keeping with the tone of the show, I’d have to give this one the nod.

Not to give away too much, but there will be multiple funerals with bagpipes, tearful speeches and other emotionally loaded moments. But there also will be scenes laced with the inappropriate and the caustic black humor for which “Rescue Me” and its creator, Denis Leary, are known.

• “American Greed: 9/11 Fraud” (8 p.m., CNBC) explores the dark side of human nature and the predatory impulses that lead people to swindle money from charities and insinuate themselves into the lives of vulnerable widows, only to drain their bank accounts. There are also contractors who have overcharged for rebuilding efforts and self-professed “victims” who received benefits even though they were nowhere near the tragic events.

Tonight’s other highlights

• The Keno twins look for antiques on two episodes of “Buried Treasure” (7 p.m. and 8 p.m., Fox).

• Fans of Martin Scorsese’s mob epics can choose between “Goodfellas” (7 p.m., AMC) and “Casino” (7 p.m., Encore).

• The top four emerge on “America’s Got Talent” (8 p.m., NBC).

• On two episodes of “Modern Family” (ABC): Mother’s Day (8 p.m.) and dog gone (8:30 p.m.).

• “NOVA” (8 p.m., PBS) presents “Engineering Ground Zero,” a look at the rebuilding of One World Trade Center.

• “Saved” (8 p.m., Animal Planet) profiles the animal helpers of 9/11.

• Haskell kidnaps Langston’s wife on “CSI” (9 p.m., CBS).

• A shootout in the precinct house on “Law & Order: SVU” (9 p.m., NBC).

• Scheduled on “Primetime Nightline” (9 p.m., ABC): weight loss.

• A divorce milestone on “Necessary Roughness” (9 p.m., USA).

• Combining the love of bling, the need for money and a whiff of celebrity, “Pawn 90210” (9 p.m., E!) has something for everyone.


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