The Boomer Century (Wednesday, 8 p.m., WHA) engages in one of the baby boomers' favorite pastimes: analyzing themselves. It profiles the 78 million people born between 1946 and 1964 and looks ahead to their senior years. 'The baby boomers have transformed every stage of life they've passed through,' says host Ken Dychtwald.
Unfortunately, they don't seem to have transformed documentary filmmaking ' not judging by this turkey. It's as dumbed-down as the schoolroom filmstrips young boomers saw in the 1950s, with lame jokes, clichÃd observations and clunky images. And watching Dychtwald stiffly read his tin-eared cue cards makes one long to have been born after 1964.
'Boomers have been both glamorized and reviled,' he intones. 'Applauded for their idealism and attacked for their self-centeredness. Praised for their innovations and condemned for their rebelliousness.'
Here's yet one more thing to condemn the boomers for: this documentary.
Friday, 8 pm (NBC)
Miss USA made headlines earlier this year when reigning queen Tara Conner was outed as a normal young woman. She was accused of having sex, going to nightclubs and ingesting the occasional stimulant. This human behavior was seen as a stain on the pageant, since beauty queens are still required to be inhuman specimens.
Personally, I think Conner has presented Miss USA with an opportunity. In 2007, the time-honored beauty-queen ideal is a joke, with its varnished smiles and squeaky-clean personas. Isn't it time we took women off this pedestal, which demeans them under the pretense of exalting them? Let's acknowledge that they're earthly creatures with real desires and flaws, rather than requiring them to be perfect goddesses ' sex objects scrubbed of real sexuality.
Our country will take a giant step forward if the Miss USA pageant asks contestants this Final Question: Do you prefer top or bottom, and why?
Sunday, 7 pm (Discovery Channel)
Discovery Channel's 11-part series aims to leave Walt Disney's nature specials in the dust. More than five years in the making, it promises animal behavior and locations never before seen on film. Unlike Disney nature specials, it won't create fake animal vignettes with happy endings.
In part one, we watch three million caribou migrate across northern Canada. Wolves show up looking for a meal, and they manage to separate one of the cute calves from his mother. The calf is brave and determined, outwitting his pursuers with feints and zigzags. You're certain the little guy will get away, but nope ' a wolf catches up, cripples him and digs in for dinner. It's a shocking sight that's guaranteed to ruin your whole day.
Walt Disney, all is forgiven.
Monday, 7 pm (Lifetime)
This special purports to be a 'unique and revealing look' at today's 25-year-old women. With hair helmet firmly in place, host Willow Bay invites a cross-section of the species into a studio to discuss their hopes and dreams.
Now, I'm in awe of this cohort and fully expect them the change the world. But I think Spotlight 25 does them a disservice. First of all, it's just plain dorky to ask a handful of women to 'explain' their generation. (Sample insight: 'They're savvy, sexy and self-confident!') Second of all, this particular group doesn't show 25-year-old women in the best light.
They're not very perceptive about what makes them different from their mothers. Yes, they have to juggle career and family, but didn't women start dealing with that a few decades ago? Yes, they have a hard time finding Mr. Right, but didn't women start dealing with that a few millennia ago? Sadly, the only thing that seems to distinguish these particular women are their annoying qualities, including a wide streak of entitlement. 'I have to have that outfit,' says a woman who spends lavishly despite a huge credit-card debt.
At the end of the program, this same woman conveys her hope for her generation: 'I want people to say we really made our dreams come true.'
Meaning that you did get that outfit?
The Party Never Stops
Monday, 8 pm (Lifetime)
This TV movie whips itself into a state of hysteria over college drinking. Yes, binge drinking is a cause for concern, but The Party Never Stops doesn't make you want to take action. It makes you want to laugh hysterically.
Good-girl Jesse (Sara Paxton) is worried about starting college. 'What if everyone thinks I'm a total loser?' she asks her mom. When she arrives on campus, she stumbles into every clichÃ from the Reefer Madness handbook. Her roommate talks her into one little drink; one little drink immediately flares into a full-blown drinking problem; her life is ruined.
We're supposed to feel sympathetic, but this isn't a character ' it's a walking, talking cautionary tale. Sorry, Jesse, but I think you're a total loser.