Which is better, movies or TV? I think we can settle the question at Sunday’s “Emmy Awards” (7 p.m., NBC).
The Hurt Locker, which won the Best Picture Oscar this year, was good. But was it great? I don’t think so. Same for The Blind Side, Up in the Air and most of the other Oscar nominees. If you want greatness, check out the Emmy nominations. You’d have a hard time choosing among the masterpieces of comedy (“The Office,” “30 Rock,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm”) or drama (“Breaking Bad,” “The Good Wife,” “True Blood”). Same goes for the actors. Edie Falco in “Nurse Jackie” or Toni Collette in “The United States of Tara”? Michael C. Hall in “Dexter” or Kyle Chandler in “Friday Night Lights”?
If you want to leave home tonight and search for a good movie, best of luck. The rest of us will huddle around the small screen for a celebration of true greatness.
Sunday, 8 p.m. (PBS)
Inspector Lewis (Kevin Whately) returns in a compelling episode about aging British rockers. The supposedly dead singer of a legendary band reappears, having faked her demise 30 years ago. Around the same time, a fellow band member turns up dead, as does a teenager and an Oxford professor who’d had dealings with the band’s sleazy manager. Inspector Lewis tries to make sense of the crimes, which seem to revolve around a lost album.
I’ll grant you that the plot is a bit fantastical, but it’s no harder to believe than actual events involving aging British rockers. I mean, the sexagenarian remnants of the Who just played the Super Bowl – what’s more fantastical than that?
“Scream Queens 2”
Monday, 9 p.m. (VH1)
This reality competition seeks a sexy victim who can scream her head off in the next installment of the Saw horror-movie franchise. “This is what I’ve been working for my entire life!” says one of the contestants. Really – to be menaced by a homicidal maniac in Saw 3D?
I was prepared to laugh at the women, but I came away impressed by the skill involved in this strange little craft. According to able mentor Jaime King, of My Bloody Valentine 3D, “You have to be panicked and vulnerable, but you also have to be strong and seductive.”
That combo is hard to pull off, as we see in the challenges. The women have to beat stuff till it spurts, shriek when monster hands burst through a wall, and freak out when a demon pops up from behind a bed. Some of them do it well, others badly. “I love your choices,” Jaime says to one contestant, referring to her progression from serenity to suspicion to total terror.
Scoff if you must, but I’d like to see you look sexy the next time a demon pops up from behind your bed.
Tuesday, 8 p.m. (Bravo)
Bravo’s reality series about an unappealing L.A. house renovator is now in its fourth season. The fact that “Flipping Out” has lasted four years is a significant milestone, proving that a contemporary reality series needs none of that old-fashioned nonsense – drama, humor, coherence, interesting people or situations – to be a hit.
As in previous seasons, Jeff Lewis works with clients and bosses around his staff. And that’s about it for a typical hour. Major developments include: a stop at McDonald’s for lunch, a consultation about backsplash, and the discovery of cat poop in Jeff’s home.
I suggest making your own trip to McDonald’s as a thrilling alternative to watching “Flipping Out.”
“She’s Got the Look”
Wednesday, 9 p.m. (TV Land)
Modeling shows like “America’s Next Top Model” favor arrogant young contestants who radiate confidence. “She’s Got the Look,” in which over-35 contestants vie for a photo shoot in Self magazine, goes the opposite direction. As beautiful as they are, these women practically quiver with self-doubt. “I’m as sexy as a washcloth,” says Julie, who looks like a scared rabbit in her photographs. Gorgeous grandmother Susan admits, “I feel very uncomfortable in a swimsuit.”
Most of the women crumble in the challenges, and the judges are forced to buck them up. “Susan, here’s your assignment,” says host Brooke Burke. “Find your confidence!”
Compared to the pretty monsters of “America’s Next Top Model,” these women are easy to like – who can’t relate to insecurity? But I suspect readers of Self magazine will be puzzled to come across a model with hunched shoulders, downcast eyes and one foot creeping toward the exit.