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Jon Hamm or Russell Brand for MTV's Best Dirtball?

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Russell Brand


MTV Movie Awards (8pm Sun, MTV)

As always, February’s stiff Oscar ceremony tried to dress the movie industry in an ill-fitting tuxedo. The MTV Movie Awards, by contrast, reminds us that the medium is supposed to be fun.

The ceremony recognizes wondrous performances that didn’t meet Oscar’s phony-baloney standards, like Kristen Wiig in Bridesmaids, Elle Fanning in Super 8, and Zach Galifianakis in The Hangover Part II. It also skips editing and cinematography awards for categories that actually matter to moviegoers: Best Kiss, Best Fight, Best Onscreen Dirtbag.

Jon Hamm (Bridesmaids) is a favorite in the Dirtbag category, though tonight he may get a run for his money from host Russell Brand, who’s no slouch in that department himself.

Melissa & Joey (7pm Wed, ABC Family)

 “Melissa & Joey was recorded in front of a live studio audience.”

That old-school voiceover at the beginning of each episode is disarming. It lets you know that the laughter you hear throughout is real — i.e., earned. It also lets you know that Melissa & Joey will affirm the sitcom genre’s verities: a brisk pace, a pleasant tone, a setup/punchline rhythm. This is just what the doctor ordered after all those broadcast-network sitcoms that strain to be hip and edgy and just end up making you squirm.

I’m all for hip and edgy sitcoms that actually work (see Girls), but in the meantime I’m happy to while away 30 minutes the old-fashioned way with Melissa & Joey. Melissa Hart and Joey Lawrence are sitcom veterans who know how to deliver a joke with the proper snap. She’s a high-powered professional, he’s her live-in nanny, and season two finds them still in the insult-banter phase of their relationship.

The season’s first episode didn’t exactly make me laugh out loud, but my smiles were real.

Longmire (9pm Sun, A&E)

Walt Longmire (Robert Taylor) lives in the modern age, but he comports himself like Wyatt Earp as sheriff of a Wyoming county. Walt shuns cell phones and computers in favor of stalking crime scenes in a cowboy hat and tersely demanding answers.

We’re supposed to admire this old-school machismo, but I couldn’t help thinking, “No cell phones or computers?” I mean, there’s manliness, and then there’s stupidity. It doesn’t help that Taylor has only one mode: flinty. He communicates no warmth, no humor, no humanity, despite the script’s attempt to give him a tragic widower’s backstory. (It’s very possible that his wife died of boredom.)

“I’m only gonna wait so long for you to crack a smile,” says Walt’s Native American pal (Lou Diamond Phillips).

He could well wait all season.

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