Why 'The Next' is the new 'American Idol'
Published: September 5, 2012
Walking past a photo of early rocker Gene Vincent in a Capitol hallway, Paul breaks into a spontaneous rendition of “Be-Bop-a-Lula.” These five seconds, with Paul singing in his true idiom, feel more exciting than anything else in “Live Kisses.”
The New Normal (8:30pm, Tue, NBC)
This new sitcom is all about tolerance for alternative families. An L.A. gay couple (Andrew Rannells and Justin Bartha) decide they want to have a baby with a surrogate. Enter Goldie (Georgia King), a single mother who’s escaped from the Midwest with the hope of starting a new life. The New Normal challenges the notion that there’s only one way to raise a child. As someone says, “Face it, honey, abnormal is the new normal.”
It sounds great on paper. But The New Normal hedges its bets by casting Ellen Barkin as Goldie’s small-minded granny. She’s there to represent the traditional point of view, and the script takes her character way over the top. Barkin spews hateful comments about Jews, Asians, African Americans, gays, and handicapped people. True, the series is technically satirizing bigots like her, but it’s also trying to get a charge out of Barkin’s nonstop slurs. In the pilot, our gay heroes chime in with a few nasty cracks of their own about fat people. Where’s the tolerance in that?
King is a lovely presence, so maybe The New Normal can build on that. At the moment, I see no evidence of a heart, and that’s pretty disappointing given the theme.
Collection Intervention (9pm Tue, Syfy)
I like to collect pop-culture artifacts as much as the next nerd — okay, maybe a little bit more — but this reality series profiles people whose collecting passion has become a dangerous obsession. We meet a guy who spends all his money on Catwoman collectibles rather than pay his mortgage and a grown woman who weeps at the thought of selling her Star Wars figurines — aka her “friends.” Who knew you could develop an intimate relationship with a plastic Ewok?
To the rescue comes Christie’s auctioneer Elyse Luray, an expert in pop-culture collectibles. She wades into houses full of junk and gently weeds out the collections, convincing the hoarders to auction off as much as they can bear.
As horrified as I am by these people, I’m also slightly interested in buying the plaster Michelle Pfeiffer Catwoman bust, depending on the price.