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Primal Screen

Zombies at the Olympics?

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2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony (6:30pm Fri, NBC)

I was put off by the militaristic strain in Beijing’s opening ceremony for the 2008 Olympics, complete with goose-stepping soldiers. But it didn’t dampen my enthusiasm for Olympics opening ceremonies in general. I love the parade of nations, the torch ceremony, the sense of epic dramas waiting to unfold.

Indeed, the whole two-week package for the London Olympics promises drama galore for U.S. fans. Will Ryan Lochte edge out Michael Phelps in the pool? Will the women’s soccer team bounce back from their upset loss against Japan in the 2011 World Cup final? Will hurdler Lolo Jones erase the memory of her fateful stumble in Beijing? Will beach volleyball duo Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh hold off their younger rivals? Will Venus and Serena Williams be utterly awesome on the tennis court, even in their 30s?

Okay, there’s not much drama in that last question — the answer is “duh.” But expect plenty of surprises in the opening ceremony, which includes Paul McCartney, James Bond, and several unknown elements. I’m slightly alarmed that the production will be directed by Danny Boyle, known for such creepy movies as Trainspotting and 28 Days Later. Will Boyle fill the Olympic stadium with his trademark junkies and zombies? I might even prefer goose-stepping soldiers to that.

School Spirits (9pm Wed, Syfy)

This reality series purports to find paranormal activity on college campuses. Syfy camera crews descend on dorms and frat houses to interview students about ghosts and demonic possession hey, anything to put off studying for finals, right? The interviews are intercut with reenactments right out of a horror movie, complete with creep-out music and shock effects.

The thing is, anyone who’s been to college will not be too scared by the “paranormal activity” on display. “I walked in the door,” recounts a new sorority sister in an ominous tone, “and it was very, very dirty. Whatever I did, I felt like I was cleaning and cleaning and I never got anything clean.” Ooh, a grimy college residence hall? Call in the Ghostbusters! The women also claim to be freaked out by the sight of strange men in the hallways again, not exactly an unheard-of phenomenon in a sorority house.

“Suddenly, I felt like something was there,” a student says of a frightening trip to the cellar.

I’d lay odds it was a Syfy producer, staging another bogus ghostly encounter to fill the network’s bottomless need for paranormal reality series.

Anger Management (8:30pm Thu, FX)

I’d make a lousy TV producer, but even I can see that Charlie Sheen screwed up by agreeing to star in Anger Management. Americans gagged when Sheen got himself fired from Two and a Half Men with his obnoxious, self-indulgent, raunchy behavior. The career advice I would have offered from my imaginary TV production firm is to find a role with loads of integrity that counteracts Sheen’s sickening image and reminds everyone he can act say, a series about a kindly public defender who moves to the Amazon to prevent corporate interests from destroying the rainforest.

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