on the tube

By Dean Robbins


That’s entertainment!


‘NCIS: Los Angeles’ succeeds the

old-fashioned way


The new spinoff, “NCIS: Los Angeles” (Tuesday, 8 p.m., CBS) doesn’t try anything fancy. No gimmicks, no strenuously original ideas — just a pair of agents (Chris O’Donnell and LL Cool J) going undercover to catch the bad guys against a backdrop of L.A. skyscrapers, with a high-tech team assisting at HQ.

It doesn’t sound like much, but “NCIS: Los Angeles” is one of the rare successes among the new fall series. The script doesn’t push the zingers, or the pathos, or the grotesquerie. It relies on the old-fashioned virtues of deft pacing and sharp dialogue.

“NCIS: Los Angeles” keeps you entertained for 60 minutes. In 2009-10, that counts as a radical approach to TV.CV

‘Sorority Wars’
Saturday, 8 p.m. (Lifetime)


Cute college freshman Katie (Lucy Hale) rushes the exclusive Delta sorority, the same one her mom (Courtney Thorne-Smith) belonged to. The sorority is controlled by mean-girl Gwen (Amanda Schull), daughter of another Delta (Faith Ford). When Katie overhears Gwen say snobby things during rush week, she realizes that Delta might not be the paradise she thought it was.

“Sorority Wars” approaches its subject gravely, competing with Dostoyevsky for moral intensity. The mean girls’ behavior leads Katie to a deeper truth: “I don’t need to buy my friends with sorority dues.” This revelation is no less profound for occurring at a campus Keg ‘n’ Egg party.

Is Lifetime serious about “Sorority Wars,” or is the network inflicting it on us as some sort of elaborate hazing ritual? CV


‘Secret Girlfriend’
Wednesday, 9:30 p.m. (Comedy Central)

Here’s more evidence that TV and the Internet are merging. “Secret Girlfriend” began as a Web series from “your” point of view, with characters talking right into the camera as if viewers were the stand-in in for the protagonist. “You” are a lecherous dude with two obnoxious slacker friends and hot girls falling all over you.

The TV version of “Secret Girlfriend” offers a bigger stage for the crude, stupid, guy-oriented side of web humor. The dialogue is about as sophisticated as the comments posted below a YouTube video. “It’s not like you can put ‘poontang’ into Mapquest and it will tell you where to go,” one character muses during the endless hunt for fresh booty.

“Secret Girlfriend” made me want to put “anywhere but here” into Mapquest.CV


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