For and against JFK11/6/2013
I’m powerless to resist a documentary about John F. Kennedy. Though I’m well aware of the late president’s faults, I’m drawn in by his charisma every time. I cheer his triumphs and bemoan his tragedies. And I always respond to images of the assassination, as if I’m seeing them for the first time.
In other words, I’m not the guy to ask for an objective assessment of “JFK,” PBS’s two-part profile (Monday and Tuesday, 8 p.m.). Predictably, I think it’s wonderful. “American Experience” assembles enough gorgeous photos, intimate film footage and perceptive commentary to keep a Kennedy fanatic happy for hours.
To judge from Monday night’s part one, the documentary is far from a puff piece. We get a good look at JFK’s bad side, including his legendarily reckless adultery. After his first year of marriage to Jacquelyn Kennedy, we learn she was walking around “looking like the survivor of an airplane crash.”
But let’s give the man his due. As one commentator says of his presidency, “He had the ability to step back and be cool, and not get sucked into the passions of the moment.” I haven’t seen part two yet, but I know I’ll be a wreck during the Bay of Pigs fiasco, the Cuban Missile Crisis and the civil rights emergencies. If only I had JFK’s ability to step back and be cool.
“Guinness World Records Unleashed”
Thursday, 7 p.m. (truTV)
In this series, Americans try their luck at breaking Guinness world records — the dumb ones that exist only because people dreamed them up, including a run at the record for Most Spaghetti Eaten in One Minute Through the Nose, Most Rope Skipped in One Minute with a Foot Behind the Head and Most Kicks in One Minute to One’s Own Head.
“The record might have cost me a few brain cells,” he admits afterwards. One assumes he didn’t have all that many to lose.
By the end of the season, I predict the United States will break the record for Most Idiots in One Country.
Friday, 8 p.m. (Fox)
As a sitcom specializing in dumb characters, “Raising Hope” has some competition from new series in 2013-14, such as “The Millers” and “Mom.” Still, in season four, it continues to find creative ways to befuddle the clueless Chance family. The season premiere focuses on Virginia Chance (Martha Plimpton), who discovers that her birth father (Jeffrey Tambor) is a gay intellectual with sophisticated tastes. Virginia and husband Burt (Garret Dillahunt) gamely accompany him to French art films and sushi restaurants, but they don’t feel comfortable in such rarefied pursuits. Meanwhile, Dad labels any criticism of himself as homophobia.
How will this conflict end? The only thing I’ll reveal is that the resolution is dumb — and I mean that in the best way.
“MTV Europe Music Awards
Sunday, 6 p.m. (MTV)
Following last August’s MTV Video Music Awards, Miley Cyrus was all people talked about on Monday morning. Her talent at simulating masturbation with a foam finger and her copulation with Robin Thicke while teddy bears shook their booties is the bar to beat by “MTV Europe Music Awards.” Katy Perry, the Killers and, yes, Miley Cyrus are scheduled to appear. CV
Dean Robbins is a syndicated TV columnist from Madison, Wis. See more of his work at www.thedailypage.com.