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Archive for Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Summer, fall seasons collide

September 14, 2011

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The network schedule suddenly gets serious. Big shows end and others premiere. Where do we begin?

A winner emerges on live installments of the contest “America’s Got Talent” (7 p.m., NBC) and the reality series “Big Brother” (8:30 p.m., CBS). Young Jackie Evancho returns to perform on “Talent.” The antiques-hunting “Buried Treasure” (7 p.m. and 8 p.m., Fox) also ends its short summer season.

New series include the reality showcase “H8R” (7 p.m., CW), hosted by the ubiquitous Mario Lopez (“Extra”). On “H8R,” celebrities get to meet people who don’t like them and attempt to win them over. On camera. Gosh, I wonder how that will turn out? This series seems better suited to syndication than network.

In the first installment, Snooki of “Jersey Shore” infamy ties to charm an entire family that finds her loathsome. Good luck!

‘‘H8R” is not the only new series predicated on the belief that we care deeply about celebrities’ feelings and are obsessed with the private lives of public people. “Up All Night” (9 p.m., NBC) stars Christina Applegate as Reagan Brinkley, a new mother and a sassy showbiz publicist who can’t wait to get back to working long hours and getting drunk and partying and waking up with hangovers.

Will Arnett plays the work-at-home husband who becomes the daytime daddy while Reagan baby-sits the egos of pampered stars and her even more clueless boss (Maya Rudolph).

There’s an awful lot of talent on display here in a comedy that doesn’t seem plausible or very funny. “Up” is the product of Lorne Michaels’ company that also makes “30 Rock.” It seems to be based on, or at least inspired by, Tina Fey’s experiences as a mother and a working professional. As such, it also seems to be another example of an entertainment community making shows for and about each other instead of making audiences laugh.

If “Up” is contrived, “Free Agents” (9:30 p.m., NBC) borders on the pathetic. Hank Azaria plays Alex, a recently divorced dad who can’t stop crying in public when he thinks about being separated from his kids. He turns to co-worker Helen (Kathryn Hahn), whose fiance died only a year earlier. For the record, they also work as publicists.

The notion of combining depression and grief to make a romantic sex-romp occasionally works in Woody Allen movies, but it makes for deadly television comedy. Azaria (“Birdcage,” ‘‘Night at the Smithsonian”) is a great character actor and has been a brilliant contributor to “The Simpsons” for decades. But he is not a comic lead. And watching Azaria in bed, or listening to Azaria talking awkwardly about sex, is not anybody’s idea of appealing.

Tonight’s other highlights

• A new set of castaways joins “Survivor” (7 p.m., CBS) for its 23rd season.

• Favorites from the past return for “America’s Next Top Model” (8 p.m., CW).

• Dani takes on a new client on the season finale of “Necessary Roughness” (9 p.m., USA).

• The Suez crisis erupts on “The Hour” (9 p.m., BBC America).

• “Deadliest Warrior” (9 p.m., Spike) compares the fantasy fighting abilities of zombies and vampires.

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