Friday, August 29, 2014

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On The Tube

Career woman, interrupted

6/4/2014

TVApril (Italia Ricci) is an ambitious young reporter proving her mettle at a Boston newspaper. She has an eye on the publication’s gorgeous, sensitive, super-cool arts-and-entertainment writer (Richard Brancatisano), and he seems to like her, too. Given her talent and charm, it looks like April has it made. But then her uncle, a doctor (Steven Weber), delivers a devastating diagnosis: She has leukemia. Will this heroine die just as we’re getting to know her? “I’m not ready yet,” April insists.

Neither are we. “Chasing Life” (Tuesday, 8 p.m.) is the latest likable ABC Family series, creating appealing relationships between April and her friends and family. As a journalist, however, I can’t help but laugh at all the things it gets wrong about a newsroom. For example, crusty editors no longer demand to have “that story on my desk by tomorrow morning,” since computers eliminated hard copies years ago. And no ethical reporter would lie her way into a celebrity interview the way April does.

But the gorgeous, sensitive, super-cool arts-and-entertainment writer? Folks, I’m here to tell you that guys like him (I mean, us) really do exist.

 

Tony Awards

Sunday, 7 p.m. (CBS)

Expect a suspenseful show, given the wide-open races in many categories. We TV and movie fans will see plenty of familiar faces among this year’s nominees, including Bryan Cranston, Tony Shalhoub, Neil Patrick Harris and Tyne Daly. We won’t see Daniel Radcliffe (“The Cripple of Inishmaan”), who has been snubbed by the Tonys for the third time in his theatrical career. Is there no Harry Potter spell for obtaining a Best Actor nomination?

It should be a big night for William Shakespeare, who has a combined eight nominations for “Richard III” and “Twelfth Night.” Daniel Radcliffe clearly needs to contact Shakespeare’s agent.

           

“Wicked Tuna”

Sunday, 8 p.m. (National Geographic Channel)

In this reality series, fishing boats compete with one another to catch bluefin tuna off the coast of Gloucester, Massachusetts. The fish can weigh over 500 pounds and fetch over $10,000 apiece — enough to feed the fishermen’s families through the winter.

This season of “Wicked Tuna” has hooked me (so to speak) with its “Moby Dick”-style psychodrama. The captains are obsessed with the fish, engaging in hand-to-fin combat with each one and howling like cavemen if they reel it in. They’re also obsessed with outdoing one another. Manhood is at stake on the open sea, and this week’s season finale reveals the winners and losers.

“Maybe the tuna gods are trying to teach me a lesson,” says Tyler, a young fisherman who won the competition last year but got too cocky for his own good this time.

The tuna gods must be similar to the Greek gods, because the lesson here is all about hubris.

 

“Murder in the First”

Monday, 9 p.m. (TNT)

This detective series will spend its entire season on a single case. Partners Hildy (Kathleen Robertson) and Terry (Taye Diggs) investigate two seemingly unrelated murders that both lead back to a Silicon Valley whiz kid (Tom Felton). “Murder in the First” was created by Steven Bochco, who gained TV immortality with “NYPD Blue” and Hill Street Blues, so you wait to see something original onscreen. And wait…and wait.

The series couldn’t be more generic, starting with the title. Then there’s the model-grade detectives, each with a single characteristic (she’s a sassy single mom, he’s a grieving husband). There is one notably sick moment in the pilot, as the cops harass a couple of elementary school boys to get information out of them. Terry threatens to send them to prison to be sodomized, causing one to pee his pants in terror. If subjecting little kids to this kind of abuse is Bochco’s “original” contribution to “Murder in the First,” he can keep it.

 

“Untying the Knot”

Wednesday, 9 p.m. (Bravo)

“I split people for a living,” says divorce attorney and mediator Vikki Ziegler, by way of introducing her reality series “Untying the Knot.” That may sound like the most depressing job of all time, but Ziegler seems enjoy herself while helping the warring parties divide their assets. She’s good at what she does, with a sense of fairness worthy of Judge Judy.

Ziegler’s clients tend to be obnoxious rich people, grasping for money and possessions as their marriages fall apart. For example, a vicious couple named Jacques and Mira tussle over who will walk away with a $100,000 wedding ring and a Paris condo. Mira sneers at Jacques, while he calls her a narcissist. Meanwhile, Ziegler is calmly taking in the details, contacting appraisers, and formulating a sensible compromise. The episode keeps you involved in the process, wondering who will get what.

After enduring a stream of abuse from her clients, Ziegler takes the high road: “I wish them tranquility and peace.”

I definitely do not wish tranquility and peace for “Untying the Knot.” On the contrary, its future hinges on the enduring appeal of malice and spite. CV

Dean Robbins is a syndicated TV columnist from Madison, Wis. He graduated from Grinnell College and went on to become an award-winning journalist, but he’s been a committed couch potato long before he figured out a way to get paid for watching TV. See more of his work at www.thedailypage.com.

Barmuda