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Archive for Wednesday, March 21, 2012

‘Bent’ breaks no ground

March 21, 2012

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While not as dreadful as “The Paul Reiser Show,” “Bent” (8 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., NBC) is merely lazy, unoriginal, unambitious and unnecessary.

Amanda Peet stars as Alex, a lawyer and a mother recently divorced from her husband, who was sent away for insider trading. At loose ends, she decides to hire a handsome but shaggy contractor, Pete (David Walton), to renovate her home. Pete’s a surfer and a stoner and catnip to ladies who don’t seem to care that he doesn’t remember their names when they wake up in his bedroom. Or that he’s 35 and lives with his dad (Jeffrey Tambor).

Brief shots of Pete attending a Gamblers Anonymous meeting are supposed to give his character some depth and a whiff of pathos. He’s basically a one-dimensional riff on Mark Ruffalo’s character from “The Kids Are All Right,” the sexy man-child heading for a dismal reckoning. But sitcoms aren’t the right format for angst; instead, we get cute scenes with Pete and his dad, a failed musician who plays the piano at a local department store and breaks into Fleetwood Mac songs when he feels sad. Mentioning Fleetwood Mac and sight gags involving a mannish woman contractor are about as topical and “edgy” as things get here.

Only in sitcom land could a barely employed father and son share a gorgeous house on a canal in LA’s Venice neighborhood.

‘‘Bent” offers a real throwback, or setback, for Amanda Peet. She has long been Hollywood’s go-to girl when playing the beautiful and smart object of desire. Having put her on that pedestal, writers seem to have forgotten about developing her character much beyond the part she played in her breakout WB sitcom “Jack & Jill” way back in 1999.

• “Duck Dynasty” (9 p.m., A&E) follows the hijinks of the Robertsons, a tight-knit Louisiana family who happened to strike it rich by handcrafting duck calls for hunters. ‘‘Duck” is a perverse riff on “The Beverly Hillbillies.” While that show used the honesty and basic decency of the backwoods characters to show up the absurdity of California culture, “Duck” reduces the Robertsons to the crudest redneck stereotypes.

Tonight’s other highlights

• Two hours of performances on “American Idol” (7 p.m., Fox).

• A theme wedding goes through the looking glass on “CSI” (9 p.m., CBS).

• Violent crime in the sunshine on “Real Vice: Miami” (9 p.m., ID).

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