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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
It's back for the new year! More acerbic, less patient and way too obsessive about shows with explosions and super powers, my column highlighting the coolest stuff to watch on TV each week has returned.
This week, I won't exactly be listing the coolest stuff, because I did a big preview on Fox's 24 debut tonight in Floridian hint, hint; my pals Sharon Fink and Sean Daly also have a way-cool American Idol preview coming your way later this week, too.
But just in case tortured super agents or torturous singing isn't your bag, think about this stuff.
AIRS: 10 tonight, HBO.
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE: Yeah, I know. Who needs another backstage showbiz satire? But what makes this series stand out among the Studio 60s and 30 Rocks - besides the cursing - is creator Ricky Gervais' knack for piling knee-slapping embarrassments on his character, aspiring actor Andy Millman. Developed as Gervais' followup to his supersuccessful British sitcom The Office, Extras should get a special Emmy for best stunt casting, from Orlando Bloom as a self-obsessed, insecure pretty boy to Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe as an oversexed mama's boy who hits on 68-year-old Diana Rigg (Emma Peel, The Avengers).
WHY I LOVE IT: An "extra" who winds up with a formulaic BBC sitcom, Gervais' Millman is an everyman constantly stumbling into awful situations, from accidentally insulting a kid with Down syndrome (the tabloids report he punched the kid's mother) to inspiring a David Bowie lyric: "little fat man who sold his soul." And Radcliffe accidentally hits Rigg with an unused condom. Really.
AIRS: 9 p.m. Thursday, WFLA-Ch. 8.
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE: The few times TV has tried musical stuff, it's failed badly. (Cop Rock, anyone?) And there are moments in Scrubs' "My Musical" episode when you wonder what the producers were smoking, as the Tony-winning composers from Broadway's Avenue Q offer songs such as Everything Comes Down to Poo. But you gotta give this quirky show's producers serious credit for a risky gambit: building an episode around a patient who mysteriously hears everything in song.
WHY I LOVE IT: The showcase number, Guy Love, in which young doctors J.D. Dorian (Zach Braff) and Christopher Turk (Donald Faison) level about their unusually close relationship, which they sing is "like I married my best friend/But in a totally manly way." Yeah, right.
AIRS: 9 p.m. Thursday, the Learning Channel.
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE: I am the last dude to get excited about a bunch of knuckleheads welding together motorbikes (the sight of gigantic, handlebar-moustached Paul Teutul Sr. jumping around onstage with Joan Jett in a new video is a near jump-the-shark moment by itself). But there's something compelling about watching Teutul and his sons bicker their way through challenging designs. This time, Paul and Paul Jr. challenge each other to a contest, each building a bike to see which one will join their line of products.
WHY I LOVE IT: Perhaps bowing to longtime criticism that the show was lowbrow and didn't involve discovering anything, the show is leaving Discovery Channel to land on TLC. Not that viewers will learn anything, except that little brother Mikey Teutul is a better comedian than bike manufacturer.
Eric Deggans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8521. See his blog at blogs.tampabay.com/media.