Thursday, November 26, 2020

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On The Tube

Home is where the heart isn’t

7/2/2014

tv finding_carter_h_2014In the opening scene of “Finding Carter” (Tuesday, 9 p.m., MTV), 16-year-old Carter (Kathryn Prescott) shares a tender moment with her mother over frozen yogurt, then heads off to party with her friends. A bit of low-level recklessness lands them briefly in jail, but the authorities don’t release Carter along with the others. A fingerprint check reveals that she was abducted at age 3, and that the woman she considers her mother is actually her kidnapper. Her parents — a.k.a. strangers — arrive to take her back to a place that feels nothing like home.

That’s a lot of drama for the first 10 minutes, but “Finding Carter” is just getting started. Carter yearns for the woman she’s always known as her loving mother, especially when her birth mother emerges as cold and controlling.

‘The ’90s: The Last Great Decade?’

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

Why not take a break from the distressing 2010s to relive a simpler decade — one in which Vanilla Ice mattered? National Geographic gives the 1990s the deluxe treatment, with three episodes and interviews with more than a hundred key players. Colin Powell reflects on the Gulf War, Monica Lewinsky on Bill Clinton, and Vanilla Ice on his relationship with Madonna. He’s surprisingly thoughtful on the subject, as he is on his unlikely role in the rise of hip-hop.

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“The only problem with the 1990s is that they didn’t last long enough,” says Clinton strategist James Carville. You tend to agree with him while watching still-funny clips of “Friends” and “Roseanne,” but the series doesn’t stint on the decade’s dark side. The Waco massacre, the Anita Hill hearings…maybe 10 years of the 1990s was enough after all.

‘Tyrant’

Tuesday, 9 p.m. (FX)

Barry (Adam Rayner), the son of a Middle Eastern dictator, has become a solid citizen in his adopted home of California. He has a respected pediatric practice, a sweet blond wife (Jennifer Finnigan) and two mouthy teens (Noah Silver, Anne Winters). Despite painful memories of his father’s cruelty, he flies back home with the family to attend his nephew’s wedding. It’s a terrible mistake, landing Barry in the middle of national, familial and psychological chaos that proves hard to escape.

“Tyrant” has a fascinating premise, allowing us to feel what it’s like to be Barry’s wife and kids: abruptly transported from comfortable American life to a dangerous culture they know little about. It also allows us to feel what it’s like to be the upright physician Barry, whose trip home puts him in touch with long-suppressed parts of his personality.

‘Mystery Girls’

Wednesday, 7:30 p.m. (ABC Family)

Holly (Tori Spelling) and Charlie (Jennie Garth) were stars of the 1990s TV hit “Mystery Girls,” where their characters investigated crimes and delivered their famous tagline: “Mystery solved!” Now they’re has-beens with no love lost for one another — until Holly gets the crazy idea of opening a real detective agency with Charlie, trading on their celebrity status. She’s the kooky Lucille Ball type, while Charlie is more grounded in reality. Add a flashy gay assistant (Miguel Pinzon) and you’ve got a recipe for a broad but enjoyable sitcom. 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.

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