Wednesday, July 30, 2014

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On The Tube

My father, the phantom

11/20/2013

TVBreeanna, a 17-year-old from Nevada, is on a mission to find her biological father. She knows him only as Donor No. 1096 — the guy who happened to provide the sperm for her lesbian mothers. Through a website, she has tracked down 15 half-siblings scattered throughout the country. “Generation Cryo” (Monday, 9 p.m., MTV) is a video diary of her journey to meet them and, ultimately, to solve the riddle her birth. “It’s like this incredible mystery,” Breeanna tells the camera, “and all my half-siblings are a different piece of the puzzle.”

MTV layers on poignant images and music, helping us feel that Breenna’s quest is our quest. In the premiere, we channel her anxiety as she travels to Atlanta to meet half-siblings Jonah and Hilit. Will they have anything in common with her other than DNA? Perhaps a desire to swap hopes and dreams with someone who sort of is and sort of isn’t a family member?

“Generation Cryo” is all about making connections, and Breenna is one of the most connection-minded people you’ll ever meet. She’s sweet and gentle, with an open heart always in danger of being broken.

I’m proud to call myself part of her TV family.

 

“Lee Harvey Oswald: 48 Hours to Live”

Friday, 9 p.m. (History Channel)

TV networks have shown a lot of documentaries about President John F. Kennedy this month. By Nov. 22, the 50th anniversary of his assassination, most Americans will have had enough. They’ll go out and have fun, the way they do most Friday nights. But a few of us dead-enders and conspiracy buffs will sign on for one more round of analyzing the available evidence.

“Lee Harvey Oswald: 48 Hours to Live” spends two hours obsessively tracking Oswald’s moves, from the moment of the assassination to his own death two days later at the hands of Jack Ruby. The History Channel mixes archival video and audio with artful reenactments filmed in the actual Dallas locations where they occurred, like the room where police grilled Oswald.

Go ahead and enjoy your Friday night on the town. There’s nowhere I’d rather be than in that claustrophobic interrogation room.

 

“Sarah Silverman: We Are Miracles”

Saturday, 9 p.m. (HBO)

Don’t let that sweet face fool you. Or that pouty, innocent delivery. Sarah Silverman wants to gross you out, scandalize you and take you to the edge of turning off the TV. The comedian specializes in saying things that are never said, regarding rape, incest, porn, Hitler, race, you name it. Her goal — and it’s an ambitious one, worthy of Lenny Bruce — is to get us laughing about the things that make us most uncomfortable.

In the standup special “We Are Miracles,” she succeeds, most of the time. Given her approach, 100 percent success just isn’t in the cards. Silverman will always see how far she can go, which means she’ll occasionally go over the line. That’s what happens with a 9/11 joke that just made me sad. But she distinguishes herself as a social satirist in bits about religion and feminine hygiene products.

Every once in a while Silverman even grosses herself out. “That’s disgusting. Erase!” she shouts following a line about father-daughter relations. I agree with her in that case, but there are about 45 minutes in this 55-minute performance I wouldn’t erase for the world. CV

Dean Robbins is a syndicated TV columnist from Madison, Wis. See more of his work at www.thedailypage.com.

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