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Going native

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Peter Vack just wants his pants back.


The River (8pm Tue, ABC)
This is a new series that crosses Heart of Darkness with The Blair Witch Project, to good effect. Emmet Cole (Bruce Greenwood) was beloved for his TV nature series, in which he explored the world with his perfect family: son Lincoln (Joe Anderson) and wife Tess (Leslie Hope). As The River begins, Emmet is presumed dead in the Amazon, and Tess drags a reluctant Lincoln and a camera crew out in search of him. As they travel up river, they discover that Emmet was involved in some scary supernatural stuff, courtesy of the native tribes. And we learn that the family wasn’t as perfect as it seemed on TV.

As in Blair Witch, the footage we see is purportedly captured by the camera crew. This conceit strains credulity at times, but it also allows for some spooky sequences of ghostly phenomena shot from a limited POV. Lincoln, for one, starts to have grave reservations about following in his father’s footsteps, pleading with his mom, “Let’s go home!”

But mom wants to stick it out. And frankly, so do I.

I Just Want My Pants Back (10pm Thu, MTV)
MTV scores with this new comedy about post-college friends in New York City. The dialogue is pitch-perfect, tossing off cultural references with exquisitely tuned irony.

Brace yourself for a half-hour of pure raunch. “Do you think I’m a slut?” asks the one-night-stand who steals our hero’s (Peter Vack) titular pants. “Only in the best, most positive way,” he answers. Both the male and female singles think about sex all the time and have it all the time, joking about the subject in a low-key way that feels real. I prefer this frank treatment to the smarmy one you see on broadcast-network sitcoms.

In other words, I Just Want My Pants Back is sex-obsessed, but only in the best, most positive way.

Secrets of Eden (7pm Sat, Lifetime)
Lifetime has a knack for TV-movie murder mysteries that, while nothing special, are just intriguing enough to pull you in. In Secrets of Eden, a small-town detective (Anna Gunn) investigates a murder-suicide involving an abusive husband and his beautiful wife. She had recently been baptized by the town’s suspiciously good-looking pastor (John Stamos). Hmmm.

True, other suspects abound. But would the insanely sexy Stamos — in tight clothes and a $400 haircut — really have been chosen to play a holy man unless he were up to something unholy?

Either Stamos is guilty of something, or the Lifetime casting director has taken leave of her senses.

Super Bowl (5:30pm Sun, NBC)
New York Giants, New England Patriots, field position, yada, yada, yada. As an entertainment writer, I’m concerned with the halftime show, and this year’s — featuring Madonna — should be a doozy. In 2004, Janet Jackson accidentally caused tsunamis and earthquakes when her costume slipped for a second, showing a blurry bit of still-covered-up breast. Years of investigations, finger-wagging and fines ensued.

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