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Archive for Thursday, January 19, 2012

Teen antics are animated on ‘Unsupervised’

January 19, 2012

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Adolescence can be awkward and ugly, but the good news is the animated “Unsupervised” (9:30 p.m., FX) shows a glint of humanity beneath its teenage characters’ crude language and behavior. A lot of the talent behind this FX cartoon comes from “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.” ‘‘Unsupervised” is more restrained and character-driven in comparison.

Gary (Justin Long) and Joel (David Hornsby) are overgrown boys content with bike riding and junkyard escapades. Gary’s parents are largely absent; their block is blighted and sad. But both kids maintain an innocent optimism, particularly Gary, who takes a certain pride in doing his own chores and living independently.

Hormones and peer pressure convince them that their geeky pursuits are keeping them from girls and sex, two concepts they discuss in purely theoretical terms. Gary announces that his house is all but open and a wild party ensues, allowing “Unsupervised” to introduce its large cast of characters, some more nuanced than others.

It’s difficult to determine what’s more monotonous: sex-obsessed adolescent patter, or a 40-year-old writer’s recollection and re-creation of the same. But once you get beyond the “Superbad” language, there’s a germ of a nice little show here about young men slowly coming to grips with a grim world and their place in it. Still, BBC America’s “The Fades,” which premiered last week, is the better of the two coming-of-age series.

• Speaking of grim worlds, “When Girls Kill” (9 p.m., E!) scours the prisons of America to visit with juvenile female murderers whose crimes were so heinous that they were tried as adults.

• “Best Buy: The Big Box Fights Back” (8 p.m., CNBC) shows how the ubiquitous electronics outlet found in malls across America has bested and outlasted its bricks-and-mortar rivals by providing service, repairs and the assurance of a Geek Squad at the ready.

‘‘Box” includes lots of Best Buy’s vintage ads from back in the days of the turntable and the VCR. Now some wonder if, like the tube television, Best Buy may be a thing of the past.

It faces a threat from online vendors who don’t have to pay for buildings and sales staff. Many shoppers look at items at a Best Buy and then purchase them elsewhere. One Wall Street type quoted here calls the retailer “Amazon’s showroom.” ‘‘Box” describes a battle that may define the very nature of retail sales in the coming years.

Tonight’s other highlights

• Jack wants to discover the identity of Liz’s new beau on “30 Rock” (7 p.m., NBC).

• Fresh faces appear on “American Idol” (7 p.m., Fox).

• Reese’s loyalty remains in doubt on “Person of Interest” (8 p.m., CBS).

• Erin tries to make Andy jealous on “The Office” (8 p.m., NBC).

• A mob boss’s murder catches Jane’s attention on “The Mentalist” (9 p.m., CBS).

• A worried Mitch takes on a difficult new case on “The Firm” (9 p.m., NBC).

• An expectant mother becomes a mugging victim on “Private Practice” (9 p.m., ABC).

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