Finally, a worthy successor to the late, lamented Chappelle's Show. In Chocolate News (Wednesday, 9:30 p.m., Comedy Central), the talented comedian David Alan Grier purports to explore current affairs from an African American perspective. What he really does is lampoon black culture, stereotypes about black culture, and the white culture that traffics in those stereotypes.
One "report" profiles a self-important hip-hop bonehead who, hired to make a public service announcement for No Child Left Behind, merely adapts one of his usual filthy videos to the educational theme. (The sexy dancing girls supply the "behind" in No Child Left Behind.) We hear from Caucasians for the Fair Use of the N Word Commission, and Maya Angelou (Grier in drag) recites a pseudo-profound poem about Barack Obama. Clearly, no sacred cow is safe during this half-hour.
In the event of an African American president, Chocolate News could be the go-to fake news program of the next four years. Watch your back, Daily Show.
Saturday, 8 pm (Lifetime)
Harry Connick Jr. got famous doing a bad impersonation of Frank Sinatra. So you can hardly blame him for sticking with his forte - bad impersonations - in this TV movie about the real-life researcher who developed the breast cancer treatment Herceptin. Connick tries to look all scientific in a white lab coat, but you can only laugh at his earnest-Ph.D. line readings. "Two hundred thousand women a year are diagnosed with breast cancer!" he barks at his new assistant (Amanda Bynes). "Getting Herceptin to work can save a lot of those lives!"
Even the prospect of a dramatic cure for cancer couldn't get me past the hour mark.
The Life & Times of Tim
Sunday, 10 pm (HBO)
This animated series follows an excruciatingly normal guy named Tim. The humor and animation are low-temperature - a perfect match for Tim himself, a young man who's going nowhere slow. He has a cruddy corporate job, an okay girlfriend and a penchant for getting sucked into dubious situations. In this week's episode, a family baptism goes bad, suggesting that there's little hope for today's alienated man.
You'd have to be as much of a loser as Tim to find this series funny. That's why I...um, hate it.
Tuesday, 7 pm (WHA)
Mark Oliver Everett flunked ninth-grade algebra and went on to become the oddball singer of the Eels. But his late father - no less of an oddball - was a brilliant physicist who dreamed up the "many worlds" interpretation of quantum mechanics. Mark freely admits that he doesn't get it. "I only have a very vague understanding of my father's theory," he says. "It gets to a certain point and becomes impenetrable. Then it gets into the scientist's language, and it becomes, like, bloob bloob bloob."
In "Parallel Worlds, Parallel Lives," Mark sets out to discover the father he barely knew. He seeks out his dad's old scientific colleagues and tries to grasp the notion of "many worlds." Essentially, universes can branch off in multiple directions. Every time we make a decision, we divide into two different versions of ourselves. A parallel universe is born, containing the alternate versions of us.
Or, in layman's terms: "Bloob bloob bloob."
The Real Housewives of Atlanta
Tuesday, 8 pm (Bravo)
We've long been revolted by the rich, vain, shallow, materialistic white women of The Real Housewives of Orange County and The Real Housewives of New York City. Now Bravo finds a similar group of African American women in a new edition of its reality series. NeNe brags about living in an exclusive gated community. Sheree throws a zillion-dollar party in honor of her own fabulousness. "I don't want any riffraff," she tells her assistant - meaning any guests worth less than seven figures. Lisa bluntly informs us of her priorities: "If it doesn't make me money, I don't do it."
We live in a country where upper-class African American women can now be just as sickening on TV as upper-class white women. I guess that's...progress?
Tuesday, 10 pm (TBS)
With the presidential campaign in full swing, you'd think that impressionist Frank Caliendo would be in hog heaven. But in the season premiere of his sketch comedy show, he wastes time on toothless bits about David Letterman, James Gandolfini and Star Wars. The only political sketch is a clunker about John McCain's whiteness.
Yo, Frank: After Tina Fey's epochal Sarah Palin impression, you're gonna have to raise your game.