According to the reality series “Lawman” (Wednesday, 9 p.m., A&E), second-tier action star Steven Seagal has spent the last 20 years quietly working as a sheriff’s deputy in Louisiana’s Jefferson Parish. Now that he’s aged, gained weight and lost access in Hollywood, he’s apparently decided to stop being so quiet about it.
This shameless vanity production follows Seagal the real-life lawman as he patrols the parish’s mean streets with his sub-Eastwood menacing squint. It’s hard to believe the multiple cameras didn’t get in the way of law-enforcement during the busts and chases, when Seagal makes sure to say such cop-like things as “roger that!” and “cut them off at the pass!”
“Nothing is more important to me than protecting the people of this parish,” Seagal says.
Well, maybe one thing: making sure the camera angles are just right while the protection is in progress.
“Santa Baby 2”
Sunday, 7 p.m. (ABC Family)
You don’t expect Christmas miracles from a cable movie called “Santa Baby,” even less so from one called “Santa Baby 2.” But, like the 2006 original, the sequel is a cut above, thanks to droll performances and direction.
Jenny McCarthy knows just how seriously to take the material – not very – in the role of Santa’s daughter, a big-city efficiency expert called back to the North Pole to modernize the hopelessly old-fashioned gift-giving operation. McCarthy brings her usual sparkle and tamps down her usual sexiness, though not even a full Santa fat suit could extinguish it completely.
Paul Sorvino plays Santa, who feels useless due to his daughter’s innovations. He heads to New York City to jam with a hip jazz band in Soho – a place even I’d consider going to sit on his lap.
“Christmas at the White House: An Oprah Primetime Special”
Sunday, 9 p.m. (ABC)
Finally, Oprah Winfrey gets to interview an American who’s almost as important as she is.
Monday, 7 p.m. (NBC)
How can any network compete with Fox’s wildly popular “American Idol”? NBC gives it a shot with this a cappella singing competition. Groups harmonize with no accompaniment, so NBC doesn’t even have to hire a band. Think of the savings!
I hope the network is smart enough to avoid an unnecessarily mean Simon Cowell-style judge. It’s easy for Cowell to bully the individual contestants on “American Idol,” but a quintet would be much more likely to jump off the stage and shove “the wow factor” down his throat.
“Better Off Ted”
Tuesday, 8:30 p.m. (ABC)
Here’s a rare treat: a new December sitcom episode that isn’t holiday-themed. Better yet, it’s hilarious. Veridian Dynamics, the ultimate heartless corporation, is sending its scary security squad to remove fired employees from their offices. The squad usually surprises the employees in mid-bagel, picking them up from their chairs and carrying them right out of the building.
“Better Off Ted” nails corporate life to the wall. Veridian is run by psychopaths in respectable suits and haircuts, creating pernicious military products like Hush-a-Boom (“When your army wants to get in and out without waking the neighbors”). The company puts up a “we care” façade, just until the point where caring interferes with business.
It’s hard to believe ABC – a big corporation itself – lets “Better Off Ted” get away with this stuff. I wouldn’t be surprised if, one day, security guards picked up the entire show and carried it out of ABC corporate headquarters.
“Launch My Line”
Wednesday, 10 p.m. (Bravo)
Bravo continues to search for a fashion reality series that can replace “Project Runway,” which Lifetime stole away. This one is almost identical, as would-be designers face challenges and critiques by a panel of judges. But the magic just isn’t there.
The hosts are a set of mumbling twins who call themselves D-squared, and the two of them together don’t equal Tim Gunn. Their critiques communicate almost nothing to the viewer: “The only thing that disturbed me about that dress was the sharpness on the end.” Well, what’s wrong with sharpness, aside from the fact that you don’t like it?
The contestants don’t have strong personalities, and the series offers little drama. The only thing that passes for excitement comes when D-squared announce: “You will have access to the Trim Closet!” As you might expect, the Trim Closet is a space filled with elastic and thread. So in this case, “excitement” is a relative term.
If they locked D-squared in the Trim Closet and threw away the key, I might consider watching next week’s episode.