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Primal Screen

'In Vogue' opens up dreamland, while 'Hunted' offers death, rebirth

Photo: Courtesy photo, License: N/A

Courtesy photo


Hunted (9pm Fri, Cinemax)
While other critics were obsessing on Homeland, I urged you to watch Hunted, an even better spy series about a troubled female heroine. After this week’s thrilling conclusion, I know you will want to thank me in some way. Chocolates are always nice.
Sam Hunter (Melissa George) is an operative for a private company specializing in espionage. She’s gone undercover in the home of a ruthless tycoon, trying to undermine him right under his nose. Though Sam is a cold-blooded professional, her mission is complicated by human feelings — specifically, her concern for the tycoon’s innocent young grandson, who might end up in the line of fire. This vulnerability could well be her undoing.

Indeed, many things could be her undoing. Sam is haunted by memories of horrible events she can only dimly remember, threatening her effectiveness. She is in danger of being betrayed by her own company, which cares more about pleasing its client than about keeping her alive. After 45 minutes of bombs, gunfire, poison, betrayal, regrets, revelations, and changes of heart, the series comes down to a heart-wrenching last few minutes, involving death, rebirth … and maybe death again.

I’m dying to tell you what happens to Sam, but the bylaws of the TV Blurb Writers Association forbid it. All I’ll say is that, when the credits rolled, I involuntarily whispered, “Wow.”

It’s a SpongeBob Christmas! (7pm Thu, Nickelodeon)
SpongeBob SquarePants takes a turn for the tactile with this holiday special rendering the cartoon characters as 3D via stop-motion animation. Luckily, the series’ inimitable combination of cynicism and innocence doesn’t get lost in the translation.

Set in the underwater community of Bikini Bottom, the story finds the villainous Plankton dosing fruitcakes with an element called jerktonium. It causes everyone to turn into a jerk, thus making Plankton look comparatively good to Santa (voiced by John Goodman). The transformations are hilarious, with the characters developing stubble and mean-looking eyes. Only SpongeBob is immune, due to his “small brain and pure heart.” 

If you’re not smiling by the final musical number, I suggest checking for jerktonium in your own system.

In Vogue: The Editor’s Eye (8pm Thu, HBO)
Vogue magazine marks its 120th anniversary with a documentary celebrating its fashion editors — a group of larger-than-life women who work with photographers to create those iconic images. We hear behind-the-scenes stories that make Vogue sound like a big dysfunctional family. Models cry; celebrities fume; editors throw things. “The fashion department was possibly one of the most alarming places on the planet,” says staffer Hamish Bowles.

But the images that parade across the screen make you think it was all worth the trouble. Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour argues that the best fashion editors hold a mirror up to the zeitgeist, so that the photographs are about more than mere frocks. Cover girl Nicole Kidman ventures a psychological explanation for the power of Vogue’s glossy pages: “They give us access to another world; they give us access to dreams.”

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