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Primal Screen

The kids are all wrong

Photo: , License: N/A

Photo: Courtesy photo, License: N/A

Courtesy photo

Jaime Pressly

I Hate My Teenage Daughter (8:30pm Wed, Fox)
It’s hard to believe that Fox, the same network that premiered New Girl this fall, now gives us I Hate My Teenage Daughter. Where New Girl is a sophisticated take on the sitcom genre, I Hate My Teenage Daughter is painfully old-fashioned, with cornball punchlines that drive the laugh track mad. Annie (Jaime Pressly) and Nikki (Katie Finneran) are friends who get into kooky situations while parenting their beautiful, bratty daughters. Imagine Lucille Ball and Vivian Vance, but without the comic talent.
Even worse than the lack of wit is the lack of civility. The show consists mainly of the women arguing with the kids and their ex-husbands, often at high volume. You feel like you’re trapped in somebody else’s nightmarish family dynamic. “We gave them a hundred dollars to stop yelling at us!” the clueless dads say of their evil spawn.
I’d be willing to pitch in 100 bucks myself to make the screaming stop.

Neverland (8pm Sun, SyFy)
At mid-century, J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan was memorably adapted in a Walt Disney cartoon and a Mary Martin musical. Since then, everybody from Steven Spielberg to Michael Jackson has had trouble with the idea of Neverland. The latest misfire is a choppy SyFy miniseries in which Peter (Charlie Rowe) is a juvenile delinquent transported to a galaxy where no one ever grows old. We get Barrie’s pirates, Indians, and fairies, but none of his enchantment. Indeed, Mary Martin flying on cables felt more magical than this CGI-clogged milieu.
Neverland features a supermodel (Anna Friel) in a sort of Victoria’s Secret version of pirate wear. You’ll shoo the kids away from the TV when she lewdly propositions Hook (Rhys Ifans), who’s dry and grim and no fun at all.
That’s right, folks — it’s a Peter Pan adaptation not meant for children. Gee, who’d have predicted that might pose a problem?

Leverage (8pm Sun, TNT)
In this week’s episode, the do-gooding gang of thieves, con artists, and hackers go undercover in a greeting-card company. Their mission is to find an embezzler, but it’s complicated by the presence of a pompous German filmmaker shooting a documentary there about American business. The gang members have to play along, speaking to the camera in character while also conducting their investigation on the sly. Soon, their actual resentments about working with each other begin to seep into their interviews in coded form.
In other words, the episode satirizes business, Germany, earnest documentaries, and Leverage itself, all while delivering an exciting caper. It also takes a whack at greeting-card culture, as one of the cons offers this idea for a new card line: “Get well soon. Or don’t — it’s not up to you.”
That Leverage pulls all this off is nothing short of miraculous. I feel like sending the producers a thank-you card.

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