Man vs. beast
Published: October 26, 2011
American Hoggers (9pm Wed, A&E)
Truth be told, the title American Hoggers didn’t fill me with anticipation for this new reality series. But it turns out to be a fascinating look at boar hunters in Texas, where the feral beasts are terrorizing landowners. Veteran hog expert Jerry Campbell and his kids come to the rescue with horses, lassos, and hounds equipped with GPS tracking systems — and despite all the weaponry, it’s still a tough fight. “The boars are smarter than we are,” the Campbells admit. The family’s nighttime raids are epic battles, with equal cunning on both sides.
Part of the fun of American Hoggers is that you never know what will come out of the Campbells’ mouths. Just when you start to think Jerry is a simple backwoods dude in a bushy beard and cowboy hat, he alludes to Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. Meanwhile, his son compares the boars to “Chaucer’s demons.”
These animals may well be smarter than the Campbells, but I doubt if they’re as well read.
Grimm (8pm Fri, NBC)
NBC took a risk in creating a contemporary detective series tricked up with a Grimms’ fairytale element. Sadly, the risk didn’t pay off. You’re intrigued through the first or second commercial break as a cop named Nick (David Guintoli) discovers his “Grimm” heritage, which allows him to perceive other-worldly beasties disguised as people.
Rather than maintaining a plausible fairytale mood, however, Grimm descends into bathos right around the time Nick meets the Big Bad Wolf (Silas Weir Mitchell). This humanoid turns the series into a joke, throwing out German words and ironic commentary. He controls his animal nature, he confides to Nick, “with a strict regimen of diet, drugs, and Pilates.”
Please allow me to throw out my own German word about Grimm: “kitsch.”
Allen Gregory (7:30pm Sun, Fox)
This new animated series is about a rich, arrogant 7-year-old boy who doesn’t realize how off-putting he is. Similarly, creator/writer/voice star Jonah Hill doesn’t realize how off-putting Allen will be to a viewing audience. As a movie actor, Hill rarely missteps (see his latest brilliant performance in Moneyball), but with Allen Gregory he steps right off a cliff.
Hill opts for the gross, cruel tone that’s de rigueur for prime-time cartoons. But unless you have satirical genius on the order of The Simpsons or South Park, you’re not going to get laughs with nasty jokes about AIDS or sex between a little boy and his principal. Here is Hill’s idea of a punchline, as Allen’s dad reflects on adopting a daughter from Cambodia: “She was this close to being turned into glue over there!”
Can someone please turn the remaining episodes of Allen Gregory into glue, pronto?