Originally created 07/31/05

TV Lookout: highlights (and lowlights) for the week



FX laughs!

In recent years, this cable channel has concentrated on intense dramas ("The Shield," "Nip/Tuck," "Rescue Me" and "Over There") where yucks are few and far between.

Now FX is introducing comic relief, thanks to two new half-hour comedies premiering Thursday.

At 10 p.m. EDT, "Starved" is a bitterly funny exploration of four New York chums each plagued by an eating disorder. (Who else but FX would find humor in bulimia?) It is created, directed and written by Eric Schaeffer ("My Life's in Turnaround"), who also stars with Sterling K. Brown, Del Pentecost and Laura Benanti. Like nothing you've seen, "Starved" is a comedy to binge on.

Then at 10:30 p.m., "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" focuses on three twenty-something chaps who are smart enough to own an Irish pub in Philadelphia, but dumb enough not to make a success of it. Or much of anything else they try.

Rob McElhenney, Charlie Day and Glenn Howerton star (and write the series), with Kaitlin Olson as Dee, the bartender sister of Howerton's character.

In the premiere, the guys hire Dee's cool boyfriend, who happens to be black, as a promoter to bring a whole new crowd into the bar. He does. But they (along with Dee) are in for a surprise.

Filmed single-camera on location, "Philadelphia" is goofy and twisted. Think of it as working-class "Seinfeld" in the City of Brotherly Love.

And think of FX as a welcome new source of hilarity.

Other shows to look out for:

- Two decades after Boston lawyer Jack Kilvert met his wife, Emma, in Hubbard's Point, he returns with Nell, his 16-year-old daughter, to grieve Emma's untimely death. But summer spent at this idyllic Northeast coastal town provides more than a chance to take stock of the present. The story also delves back into the past, when three teenage girls, one of them Emma, were inseparable. Now Nell meets one of her mother's former friends, while Jack confronts the hidden truth about his late wife. It's all part of "Beach Girls," Lifetime's beach-novel-for-TV that premieres 8 p.m. Sunday with a two-hour episode, then continues with hour installments the next four weeks. It stars Rob Lowe, Julia Ormond and Cloris Leachman.

- The freshness date of this series seems to have expired: By now everybody recognizes knows that moms are highly useful, and that they're missed when they're not around. But "Meet Mister Mom" aims to demonstrate how much, by releasing the lady of the house from her chores and sending her on a luxury retreat, while dad and the kids are left to fend for themselves. This being a reality show, there must be competition built into the equation: The dads from two families will go head-to-head to see who can best handle the domestic pressures. Comedy ensues, especially for the moms as they watch the madness from afar on closed-circuit TV. "Meet Mister Mom" premieres 8 p.m. Tuesday on NBC.

- What do Americans like to eat? Depends on where you are. Comedian Mark DeCarlo sniffs out unexpected regional favorites on Travel Channel's "Taste of America," a celebration of the country's distinct regional cuisines and the people who savor them. Premiering with back-to-back half-hours, the series takes DeCarlo to such locales as the Ohio River Valley (to find who makes the best goetta, a savory mixture of oatmeal and meat); to Portland, Ore., for doughnuts; and to Santa Fe, where New Mexican cuisine revolves around the green chili. You can hit the road, then dig in, at 8 p.m. Tuesday.

- Riotous and raunchy, "Tripping the Rift" is back for a second season of sci-fi spoofery. The animated series is set on a starship named Jupiter 42 captained by a globby purple alien named Chode. His ill-assorted crew includes the outrageously engineered Six, a sexy cyborg surely inspired by the actress who provides her voice, Carmen Electra. A new episode, "Honey I Shrunk the Crew," airs 10 p.m. Wednesday on the Sci Fi Channel, followed at 10:30 p.m. by a repeat of last week's season premiere "You Wanna Put That Where?": The voyagers travel to all-gay planet Fabulous 7, where (as they find to their dismay) heterosexual relationships are punishable by death.

- As the History Channel observes, the dragon is the best-known creature that never was. Now "Quest for Dragons" explores how, throughout time, dragons have influenced virtually every culture. Mesopotamian tribes, Chinese, Norwegians, Central American Indians, Japanese, Europeans: They all conjure dragons with similar characteristics. But how could isolated cultures invent the same beast? Why would so many people believe dragons are real, even today? The two-hour special investigates those questions with fire-breathing urgency. It airs 8 p.m. Thursday.