Thursday, August 11, 2022

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On The Tube

Who am I this time?


TVMartin Odum (Sean Bean) is a CIA agent who transforms himself into a different person for each undercover job. For example, he goes to great lengths to style himself as a creepy outsider to infiltrate a domestic terrorist group, masking his British accent with a stutter. “Legends” keeps you on the edge of your seat as Martin tries not to blow his cover under tremendous pressure (Wednesday, 8 p.m., TNT).

That would be enough of an accomplishment for a new series, but “Legends”adds an intriguing twist. Martin is a psychological wreck who has trouble working with his colleagues and his supervisor, Crystal (Ali Larter). Apparently, his unstable personality is what allows him to lose himself in a character. In fact, he’s so unstable that we’re not surprised when a mysterious figure accosts Martin and suggests that he’s not who he thinks he is.

“Wicked Tuna: North vs. South”

Sunday, 9 p.m. (National Geographic Channel)

I’m a fan of the “Wicked Tuna” reality series, in which Gloucester fishing boats go head-to-head to catch invaluable bluefin tuna one by one. So you can bet I’m excited by this spinoff, in which our New England heroes sail to North Carolina’s Outer Banks to challenge Southern tuna fishermen on their own turf.

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The Southerners are more godly than the New Englanders, praying for divine help in catching the fish. “The three things I hold dear are God, family and fishing,” drawls a Southern captain named Britton.

The fishing techniques are different in the Outer Banks, but the caveman behavior is much the same. The fishermen taunt their rivals, scream at the fish, and howl with joy when they get a bite. There’s no shortage of catches in the first episode, so everybody’s happy.


Wednesday, 9 p.m. (A&E)

This reality series was a hit when it premiered earlier in the year, and God knows why. Singer Donnie Wahlberg and actor Mark Wahlberg hang out with brother Paul, who runs the restaurant Wahlburgers in their native Boston — and that’s about it for plot. In season two, Paul gets into a fantasy football league, and Mark helps a friend with dental problems. I mean, we all have dental problems of our own, right? Why spend a half-hour looking at someone else’s X-rays?

I’m not saying I don’t watch “Wahlburgers.” I’m merely trying to figure out its appeal. Is it redemptive to see life’s minutiae elevated to the level of performative spectacle? Or is our obsession with the Wahlbergs simply an act of displacement — in other words, a sublimation of our fear of the void?

“The Border”

Wednesday, 9 p.m. (FX)

In season two, a detective from the U.S. side of the border (Diane Kruger) and her Mexican counterpart (Demian Bichir) continue to delve into the drug war and its attendant corruption. I don’t understand why critics like this series, other than my sneaking suspicion that critics are masochists. “The Border” earns their affection in the now-standard way: putting an arty gloss on a grimly boring plot while throwing in enough torture to make them feel like something significant is happening.

This week’s episode is a bust in terms of storytelling, but it does showcase a character gagged, flayed and duct-taped to a chair. “Help me, please,” he moans.

Funny, I was moaning the exact same thing. CV

Dean Robbins is a syndicated TV columnist from Madison, Wis. He graduated from Grinnell College. See more of his work at

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