On his good days, David E. Kelley (Ally McBeal, Boston Legal) keeps quirkiness and poignancy in perfect balance. On his bad days, he creates The Wedding Bells (Friday, 8 p.m., Fox).
The three Bell sisters run a wedding-planning business, and the title's corny pun tells you everything you need to know. Kelley has nothing funny or perceptive to say about this milieu, so he forces the kooky stuff. A bride catches on fire; a bride runs away at the last minute; a bride does a pre-ceremony porno shoot because she needs to feel sexy. Guess what, America ' brides can be flighty and demanding!
With the jokes so stupid, the stabs at 'honest emotion' are downright pathetic. On a brief break between farcical plot points, one sister tells another, 'Don't be afraid to feel.'
Good advice. I encourage viewers of The Wedding Bells to feel disappointed.
Saturday, 7 pm (HBO)
This TV movie sounds fascinating: a candid look at the African American community's HIV crisis, focusing on a survivor and activist (Queen Latifah). That's a milieu we don't see much on TV, and the location shooting in Brooklyn promises a dose of kitchen-sink realism.
But Life Support doesn't live up to its promise. Writer and first-time director Nelson George bases the story on his own sister and her family, and he's obviously too close to the material to transform it into compelling drama. Instead, he delivers an earnest after-school special ' and a peculiarly boring one at that, given the edgy subject matter. The characters pretty much just sit around talking, and most of the stuff they say will put you to sleep. 'Make sure you get those stat sheets filled out so we can turn them in and get paid,' says Latifah's boss at an AIDS outreach group.
I'd love to tell you if the stat sheets get turned in, but I don't want to give away the ending.
Designer to the Stars
Saturday, 9 pm (WE)
This new series catches us up in the whirlwind of Kari Whitman, who designs interiors for celebrity clients like Jessica Alba and Kristen Bell. As if that weren't absorbing enough, she also runs a nonprofit dog-rescue organization and lives the zany single life in L.A.
In this week's episode, actress Virginia Madsen hires Kari to make her living room a Hawaiian paradise. In the meantime, Kari has trouble placing a rescue dog with her own mother, and her Land Rover's navigation system gives her all the wrong directions.
Things don't go so well in Madsen's living room, either. Maybe the Land Rover was trying to give her the right directions: straight out of town.
The Rolling Stones: Truth and Lies
Saturday, 9 pm (BBC America)
This British documentary promises to shock us with new revelations about the Rolling Stones. That sounds impressive, given the shocking things we already know about them. Imagine my disappointment, then, when the program dredges up the same old stories about drug abuse and sexual excess.
Then comes the blockbuster. Keith Richards, it turns out, dressed up in a cute little uniform at age 9 and sang in the chorus at Queen Elizabeth's coronation. You heard me right: Beneath Richards' debauched faÃade beats the heart of a choirboy. That, my friends, is shocking.
Sunday, 7:30 pm (Fox)
Did you watch last week's premiere, like I told you to? I'm worried that viewers won't find this wonderful new sitcom. And it just can't get canceled, because star Rob Corddry has the potential to climb onto the Mount Rushmore of TV comedy.
This week's episode confirms that the pilot was no fluke. Corddry works virtuoso variations on his loser character, an arrested adolescent in his 30s who's never dated a woman. He's overjoyed when a former high school crush (Erinn Hayes) asks him to dinner ' until he realizes she might expect sex. He comes up with the idea of visiting a prostitute to get some practice, a scenario that allows Corddry to show his stuff. He suffers paroxysms of embarrassment and shame as he buys his first condoms at the drugstore, then does everything wrong at the bordello. Anyone who's ever tried, and failed, to come across like an adult will be rolling on the floor.
If you don't watch this show, and it goes off the air for want of an audience, I will never speak to you again.
Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern
Monday, 8 pm (Travel Channel)
Zimmern is what my grandma used to call a good eater ' maybe too good. He travels the world consuming the weirdest local cuisine he can find, including fried crickets, snail porridge and jellied moose nose.
This week's episode is set in Ecuador, where Zimmern tastes a local delicacy: Guinea pig. Afterwards his stomach doesn't growl; it scampers.
The Black Donnellys
Monday, 9 pm (NBC)
The Donnellys are four working-class Irish American brothers living on the wrong side of the law, each with his own tragic flaw. They bet, steal, drink and duke it out with the Italians muscling in on their New York City neighborhood. They live in a Damon Runyan-style world where dese guys hang out with dose guys and everybody's in da racket. At its best the series is lively and cinematic, with a funny mock-mythic tone.
Unfortunately, mock-mythic sometimes gives way to just plain mythic. The cheeky wit disappears, and suddenly the characters are exchanging longing looks in the rain as earnest indie-rock guitars keen on the soundtrack. My advice: Drop the melodrama and stick with the cheeky wit. There's nothing wrong with dat.