On The Tube
Meet wife No. 48/21/2013
“Escape from Polygamy” looks inside a creepy religious sect
You’d expect a TV movie called “Escape from Polygamy” to be a predictable docudrama, but this Lifetime production offers plenty of surprises in its story of a teenage girl trapped among religious fundamentalists (Saturday, 7 p.m.).
Julina (Haley Lu Richardson) joins a creepy New Mexico sect when her true-believer mother (Mary McCormack) becomes wife No. 4 for a dour old man. Julina is smart, playful and inquisitive. Unfortunately, these are considered “sinful” qualities by the sect’s leader (William Mapother), who calls himself The Prophet. Sinfulness is a constant topic of conversation on The Prophet’s ranch, so there’s a Romeo-and-Juliet sense of danger when Julina and The Prophet’s skeptical son (Jack Falahee) become attracted to one another.
“Escape from Polygamy” is blessed with skillful actors and a vivid setting. The movie satisfies your curiosity about polygamous communities while also mustering artistic touches. It is surely sinful to enjoy the story as much as I did.
“The Secret Life of Dogs”
Sunday, 8 p.m. (National Geographic)
Dogs make me feel happy, so I looked forward to this special about their extraordinary abilities. Beautifully produced, it offers the latest scientific insight into canine behavior while introducing us to real dogs that have done remarkable things.
At first I smiled at the stories of pets that help the blind and work around the farm. But I grew uneasy, as the stories became ever more grandiose. A Labrador named Endel does everything for his disabled owner, from picking out groceries to mailing letters.
While dogs used to make me feel happy, now they make me feel inferior.
“MTV Video Music Awards”
Sunday, 8 p.m. (MTV)
Last year’s Video Music Awards was a snore, despite extravagant attempts at naughtiness by the likes of Rihanna and Pink. Not surprisingly, it was also the least-watched VMA ceremony in years.
With Miley Cyrus up for three awards, I was all set to skip the 2013 show… until word came of a Lady Gaga performance. Gaga will perform the debut single from “ARTPOP.” In previous appearances, she has covered herself in blood, worn a meat dress and impersonated a man. I think it’s safe to say that on Monday morning no one will be talking about Miley Cyrus.
“Heroes of Cosplay”
Tuesday, 9:30 p.m. (Syfy)
Super-fans compete in costume contests on the cosplay convention circuit, putting heart and soul into replicating characters from videogames, movies and TV, simply for the adoration of the fantasy community. They measure success by the number of followers or, in the case of breakout stars like Yaya Han, by the number of business deals. Yes, you can make decent money impersonating an elf.
The fun part is seeing how far they go for a good costume. I like to play Darth Vader as much as the next guy, but these people put my Halloween efforts to shame.
Wednesday, 9:30 p.m. (A&E)
This new reality series focuses on four dads who handle the bulk of the childrearing in suburban Texas, which sounds like an enlightened arrangement — until the dads open their mouths. In their late 30s or 40s, they still talk to each other like sniggering frat boys, i.e. the single dad is not above using his child as a pickup device in the grocery store, to the hooting approval of his friends.
Do the stars of “Modern Dads” feel the need to proclaim their manliness because they feel less than manly in the nurturing role? That doesn’t sound very “modern” to me. CV
Dean Robbins is a syndicated TV columnist from Madison, Wis. See more of his work at www.thedailypage.com.