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Primal Screen

Primal Screen: American idiots

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The TV movie assumes Peterson is guilty, right on the eve of his trial. His lawyers must be outraged, but the rest of us can get a sleazy thrill watching the alleged villain plot his misdeeds. He somehow charmed his beautiful wives (Kaley Cuoco, Cara Buono), so one can only assume that the real Peterson’s mustache looked less repulsive than Lowe’s.

Napoleon Dynamite
7:30 pm Sunday, Fox
The 2004 movie Napoleon Dynamite creates an alternate universe in small-town Idaho, populating it with nerds, weaklings, and morons who are part real and part unreal.  The deadpan tone is beautifully wrought, giving the film an absurdity all its own.

If anybody could translate this tone to an animated TV series, it would be the movie’s writer-directors, Jared and Jerusha Hess, along with the original cast. But the magic eludes them here. Unlike the movie, the series crudely sneers at characters who have little money or sophistication. And unlike the movie’s Napoleon, the TV version (Jon Heder) acknowledges how pathetic he is. “I couldn’t have chickened out with a better guy,” he tells his brother as they run away from a fight.

Napoleon Dynamite would never say such a thing. It feels kind of weird that we know that and the guys who created the character don’t.

Remodeled
8 pm Tuesday, CW
Paul Fisher is a shaved-head New Yorker who thinks he can create “the next generation of supermodels” by grooming them in a network of small-town agencies. In his new reality series, Fisher visits those agencies and screams at the people running them for not meeting his high standards. “This is how you destroy my #$%& reputation!” he bellows, flinging glass to the floor.

Fisher takes himself very seriously, as does the crew of black-clad toadies he surrounds himself with. But I’m sure viewers won’t. It’s hard to see why the guy needs to have Yosemite Sam-style conniption fits over teenage beanpoles whose only requirement is to walk in a straight line wearing tight clothes. (Granted, some of them can’t even manage that feat.)

“It’s NOT FUNNY!” Paul screams at an underling who dares to smile during one of his rants. “It’s my reputation! It’s my name!”

I have to disagree. It is funny.

Dean Robbins covers television entertainment for the Current. Read his longer complete column each week, only at sacurrent.com

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