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Primal Screen

Joan Rivers heads the 'Fashion Police'

Photo: Courtesy photo, License: N/A

Courtesy photo

'Fashion Police'


Fashion Police (9pm Fri, E!)
Along with Giuliana Rancic, Kelly Osbourne, and George Kotsiopoulos, Joan Rivers will call out the best and worst of celebrity frocks, naming the “Fash-Hole” who’s committed the most egregious crimes against couture.

The word “Fash-Hole” only begins to suggest Rivers’ raunchy approach to this subject. Now pushing 80, she can still elicit gasps with her foul-mouthed jokes. But her genius — and no, that’s not too strong a word for this pioneering female comedian — is that she can also elicit laughs while making you deeply uncomfortable. It would require a Ph.D. dissertation to explain exactly how she pulls this off, but I think it involves the fact that she’s as hard on herself as she is on her victims. Plus, Rivers is just plain witty — much more so than most of the mean-spirited women comics who’ve followed in her wake.

Goaded by Joan, the panelists help make Fashion Police one of the most transgressive shows on TV. “We’re all going to hell,” Rancic told her colleagues on one broadcast, following a particularly nasty bit. “You know that.”

They probably are going to hell. And I, for one, can’t wait to hear what they think of the clothes down there.

Impractical Jokers (9pm Thu, truTV)
I reluctantly gave this prank show a thumbs up when it premiered last year, despite its lowbrow concept. I wanted to be the mature TV critic and look down my nose at it, but I was laughing too hard.

The idea is that four friends compete to embarrass each other in public situations. For example, one of them is installed as a receptionist at a business, and the others give him instructions (through an earpiece) on acting weird around the people who come through the door.

There’s a fair amount of cruelty involved, but the friends direct it at themselves, not at innocent bystanders. And they have so much fun humiliating each other that it’s hard not to have fun watching them.

Look at me, trying to sound like the mature TV critic with my justifications for Impractical Jokers. The bottom line is: The show is indefensible and irresistible.

American Masters (9pm Fri, PBS)
“Joffrey Ballet: Mavericks of American Dance” chronicles an artistic revolution. Before Robert Joffrey and partner Gerald Arpino came on the scene in the 1950s, American classical ballet companies reflected European and Russian traditions. The Joffrey Ballet was a truly indigenous company, with American themes and music. The choreography opened classical ballet to modern-dance influences, and it also responded to current events. Thus, the troupe premiered antiwar and psychedelic-rock ballets in the 1960s, blowing audiences’ minds.

Along with the dazzling dance footage, the documentary offers decades’ worth of colorful anecdotes. On a tour of Afghanistan in a freezing auditorium, the audience applauded silently while wearing mittens. In the 1990s, Prince became enamored of the Joffrey and offered the use of his songs royalty-free. That led to both financial solvency and temporary artistic bankruptcy.

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