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Archive for Sunday, July 29, 2012

Athletes should stick to sports

July 29, 2012

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The Olympic Games often produce a sports celebrity of the moment who tries and fails to make it in the world of entertainment. Mark Spitz and Michael Phelps have each demonstrated how spending years submerged in a swimming pool is poor preparation for comedy.

Does anybody recall Nancy Kerrigan’s 1994 attempt to host “Saturday Night Live”? Time magazine ranked her hosting appearance as one of the show’s 10 worst. Michael Phelps also made the humiliating cut. My favorite Olympics misfire was Bruce Jenner’s turn in the atrocious 1980 disco comedy “Can’t Stop the Music.” Jenner has returned to “entertainment” in “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” (8 p.m. Sunday, E!). But that’s atrocious on an entirely different level.

• Don’t be fooled by its title: “Hillbilly Handfishin’” (7 p.m. Sunday, Animal Planet), now in its second season, is often surprising. The hosts of this show have turned an uninviting stretch of opaque brown water into a tourist destination and have transformed a primitive form of fishing called “noodling” into a life-altering event for the series’ contestants. Never mind the snakes and bugs, not to mention the invitation to stick your arms, legs and even whole body into something called a “beaver hole.”

‘‘Handfishin’” is plagued by repletion and a tendency to spoon-feed viewers with rather self-evident changes in story and situation. But the hosts and creators of “Handfishin’” have the wisdom to emphasize the foibles and delusions of the weekly contestants, a steady stream of folks who will clearly do anything to get on television. This week’s “stars” include a couple of young pastors from New Jersey who are out of their depth when they go to prey upon bottom-feeders.

Sunday’s other highlights

• Look for swimming, gymnastics and diving during prime-time coverage of the London Olympics (7 p.m., NBC).

• A&E offers three consecutive chances to catch up with “Longmire” (7 p.m., 8 p.m. and 9 p.m.), beginning with the pilot.

• The Chancellors celebrate on “True Blood” (8 p.m., HBO).

• Walt has news for Marie on “Breaking Bad” (9 p.m., AMC).

• Elaine shares her plan with her family on “Political Animals” (9 p.m., USA).

• The story behind Matt’s stalker spooks Sean and Bev on “Episodes” (9:30 p.m., Showtime).

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