Mick Jagger has agreed to participate in the new sitcom 'The Knights of Prosperity' (Tuesday, 8 p.m., ABC). It's his worst decision since hiring the Hell's Angels as security guards for 1969's Altamont music festival.
A group of pathetic losers decide to rob Jagger's New York City apartment. Rolling Stones enthusiasts will soon realize that the show is 99% pathetic losers and 1% Jagger, making the odds 99 to 1 that every episode will be pathetic. I think the would-be criminals are supposed to win us over with their goofy charm, but the charm-free acting and dialogue prove to be a major obstacle. 'So what if we're not conventionally handsome, or educated, or sober,' the gang leader (Donal Logue) tells his fellow misfits.
They're not conventionally funny, either. Not with punchlines like this: 'You know what is my favorite part of a woman? The vagina!'
After a failed attempt to invade Jagger's building, a gang member says, 'This whole thing has turned to crap on a stick.' Dammit ' that was the line I planned to end this review with.
Going to Pieces: The Rise and Fall of the Slasher Film
Friday, 8 pm (Starz)
This is the first time I've ever run, screaming, from a documentary. It's a history of the slasher film that includes all the good parts ' or bad parts, depending on your perspective. We begin with 1978's Halloween, a low-budget feature that introduced the faceless boogeyman with a knife. It was a surprise hit, leading other filmmakers to wonder: Why stop at knives? The documentary takes us on a guided tour of hatchets, drills, hooks, arrows and chainsaws as slasher films became big business in the 1980s. We learn how the special effects were created (no set was complete without a big tub of shrimp dip) and how filmmakers approached artistic challenges. 'I wanted the head to flip when it got cut,' says Friday the 13th's FX maestro.
Amid the squishing and screaming, the documentary explores our fascination with slasher films. Some commentators trace it back to our species' bloodlust, evident even in cave paintings. Others see it as reflecting real-life concerns of the 1980s. Americans were worried about AIDS, itself a faceless killer. Men were threatened by the women's movement, and slasher films gave them a chance to see independent females get the Prom Night treatment. And the physical-fitness craze had everyone interested in their bodies ' an obsession that, in slasher films, translated into body parts.
Yes, 'Going to Pieces' gives us a lot to think about. Especially in bed, at 3 a.m., with the windows rattling and the floorboards creaking.
The Final Days of Planet Earth
Saturday, 7 pm (Hallmark Channel)
A monster is stalking our planet. Living beneath the city streets, it creeps aboveground in human form, hiding its oily brown tentacles inside a woman's body. It's...
...okay, it's Daryl Hannah.
I wanted to keep this TV movie's secret, I really did. But could you pretend you didn't see the tentacles come out of Hannah's mouth, and her milky skin fall away to reveal a giant preying mantis underneath?
Oops ' I shouldn't have mentioned the mantis either. Well, if you must know, Hannah's body was taken over by insects from outer space looking for a food source on earth. Though slithery and inhuman, these insects speak perfect English, allowing Hannah to deliver lines of dialogue like this: 'We need to seize this planet and START OUR FARMS!'
Yes, Hannah has taken another step down the ladder of Hollywood degradation. Indeed, I doubt she'll ever get another serious role after the scene in which her giant mantis...
...oh no you don't! You're not weaseling that plot point out of me.
Wednesday, 10 pm (Bravo)
'Top Chef' pits 15 chefs against one another in a variety of contests, eliminating them one by one to crown the series' culinary king. As I watched the season premiere, I thought, 'This is the way a reality-show competition ought to be.' The emphasis is not on contestants fighting each other, but on talented people quietly practicing their craft. We watch the chefs prepare dishes under pressure, as in a 'mystery box' contest that requires them to make a delicious meal from the unlikely combination of snails, processed cheese, peanuts and artichokes. When they're finished, the head chef doesn't rant and rave, but rather thoughtfully analyzes their dishes. I was delighted at the absence of screaming, backstabbing and psychodrama.
Just as I was about to turn off the TV, however, I caught a preview of upcoming episodes. I was shocked to see ' yes ' screaming, backstabbing and psychodrama. 'You're a self-centered, egotistical bastard!' one contestant shouts at a rival. 'If you touch anything of mine,' snarls another contestant, 'I will beat you so bad that your mother will not recognize you!'
So much for talented people quietly practicing their craft. Brace yourself for the spectacle of contestants smashing large slabs of salmon ' smoked over cherry-wood with horseradish crÃme fraÃche ' into each other's faces.