TV Shows: March 1-12
Andrew Jenks, host of MTV’s World of Jenks
World of Jenks
Monday, 10 pm (MTV)
Millennials have a reputation as a narcissistic generation, and World of Jenks is Exhibit A. 26-year-old filmmaker Andrew Jenks often turns the camera on himself in this MTV series, even though the subject is ostensibly other people. Andrew sets out to profile three fellow young folks facing obstacles in their lives: an autistic man, a reformed drug dealer and a cancer victim. He hangs out with them to explore their struggles – not to mention his own response to their struggles. (See title.)
The self-promotion may be a bit much, but I am impressed by the season premiere. Andrew has an easy rapport with his subjects, making them feel comfortable discussing their problems. And he’s such a filmmaking wizard that the portraits come alive onscreen, with an editing style and a musical cue for every shade of emotion. Andrew is earnest in his desire to portray everyday heroes, but he also manages a droll and breezy tone.
If this is the way Millennials express their narcissism, I’m all for it.
Wednesday, 8 pm (TNT)
Mark Wahlberg’s reality series may make police dramas obsolete. After watching real Boston cops in action, who needs the likes of Hawaii 5-0?
TNT’s cameras gain incredible access to squad-car conversations and apartment raids, not to mention the officers’ private lives. We come to know the men and women in blue, and we come to appreciate the danger they face every day. Wahlberg himself narrates the episodes, which follow various narrative threads. For example, we watch the fugitive unit track a suspect, set up a raid, and execute it when the time is right. You can’t help but pump your fist when they avoid harm and lead the bad guy away in handcuffs.
If any Boston criminals happen to be tuning in, I bet even they would cheer in spite of themselves.
Dukes of Melrose
Wednesday, 9:30 pm (Bravo)
Dukes of Melrose is a cut above most couture-based reality series. For one thing, it’s only a half-hour, so it doesn’t feel padded. For another, the tone is nice rather than nasty. And the concept has an effortless odd-couple charm.
Cameron Silver owned an extravagant vintage clothing business, while Christos Garkinos owned a more conservatively run store. They merge their operations into one high-end dress shop for L.A. celebrities, setting up a clash between the spendthrift Cameron and the sensible Christos. There’s just enough friction to make things fun.
“We’re not going to be cheap,” Cameron insists. “We’re going to be chic.”
No, you’re going to be both, and that’s why we’ll keep watching.
All-Star Celebrity Apprentice
Sunday, 8 pm (NBC)
Donald Trump emerged as an ugly figure during the last presidential election. He launched one pernicious attack after another on President Obama, all for the purpose of gaining media attention. And the media duly complied.
Trump is similarly ugly in the new season of Celebrity Apprentice. He brags, belittles the contestants, and stirs up ill will. But as a TV critic, I have to be honest: Trump’s antics are enjoyable in a reality-show context.
So more power to All-Star Celebrity Apprentice. Better to keep Trump busy in this playpen so he has less time to poison the body politic.
Robot Combat League
Tuesday, 9 pm (Syfy)
In this reality competition, two-person teams are put in charge of eight-foot-tall humanoid robot fighting machines, with names like Thunder Skull and Steel Cyclone. They control the robots in combat situations, and the last team standing wins $100,000.
But let’s consider the word “control” for a minute. As a regular viewer of Syfy programming, I know that people can only control humanoid machines for so long before they turn on us and enslave our population. That $100,000 isn’t going to do the winners any good when they’re hiding in an underground bunker with a small band of freedom fighters who have only the slimmest chance of vanquishing our metallic overlords.