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Archive for Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Tune In Tonight: Cable’s TBS struggles to stay fresh

April 16, 2013

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In the years since the cable channel TBS rebranded itself as a comedy outfit, we’ve seen some great innovations in comedy. But not on TBS. While shows like “Louie” and “Modern Family” have brought some discerning viewers back to TV comedies, TBS has played it relatively straight, airing fairly old-school sitcoms including “The Bill Engvall Show” “My Boys,” “Men at Work” and “Tyler Perry’s House of Payne.”

Tonight, TBS dials it back decades with the newest variation on “Candid Camera.” “Who Gets the Last Laugh?” (9 p.m.) asks three professional comedians to devise hidden camera pranks to scare and surprise unsuspecting strangers. At the end, a studio audience, aided by host Donald Faison (“Scrubs”), will decide the funniest of the three and award $10,000 to that comic’s favorite charity.

How old is this idea? “Candid Camera” debuted — on radio — in 1947. Its cable knockoffs aren’t exactly young, either. “Punk’d” debuted on MTV in 2003. Shannen Doherty first hosted “Scare Tactics” on the old Sci-Fi Channel a decade ago as well.

TBS would be better served if it developed original sitcoms for some of “Last Laugh’s” comedian participants, including Andy Dick, Tom Green, Cheri Oteri and Alan Thicke. With the possible exception of Conan O’Brien, TBS continues to search for a comedic identity.

“In Performance at the White House” (7 p.m., PBS, check local listings) celebrates the Memphis Soul sound of the 1960s and ‘70s, popularized on the Stax record label, home to Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, Booker T. and the MGs and other influential acts.

Tonight’s other highlights

• The battle round continues on “The Voice” (7 p.m., NBC).

• The remaining chefs must prepare six Chinese dishes on “Hell’s Kitchen” (7 p.m., Fox).

• High hopes for a new season on “Deadliest Catch” (8 p.m., Discovery).

• A priest’s murder may be linked to an earlier crime on “Golden Boy” (9 p.m., CBS).

• A much-loathed mutual fund manager vanishes on “Body of Proof” (9 p.m., ABC).

“Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel” (9 p.m., HBO) looks at the role of soccer fans in Egypt’s revolution.

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