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Penny Marshall

Penny Marshall

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When you cover television, you take the good with the bad.

Mostly the latter this time of year.

Case in point: The Superstars, which debuted on ABC this week.

As remakes of made-for-TV competitions go, this puppy is even worse than the recent American Gladiators.The Superstars matches up celebrity/athlete teams, like Julio Iglesias Jr.

with Brandi Chastain or Dan Cortese with Lisa Leslie.

(Hey, I didn't say they were big celebrities.) The first pair eliminated were model Joanna Krupa and NFL team-killer Terrell Owens.

Their downfall came on the obstacle course when Owens got entangled in a cargo net like a fly in a spider's web.

Inexplicably, it took him most of the show to free his foot.

Krupa was more than a little miffed, fuming, "Calls himself an athlete.

.

.

.

So cocky.

For what?" Owens got in the last word as they took the walk of shame away from the course.

"I really feel bad for your boyfriend," he said.

"I really feel bad for him." That T.O.

Always a class act.

The show's format reminded me of Battle of the Network Stars, the '70s epic that set the gold standard for junk TV.

How could you not love an athletic showdown between an ABC team captained by Gabe Kaplan, with Suzanne Somers, Billy Crystal, Cheryl Ladd, Parker Stevenson, Penny Marshall, and others taking on Jimmie Walker's CBS team made up of Jamie Farr, Loretta Swit, Lyle Waggoner, Valerie Bertinelli, and Adrienne Barbeau? And don't forget Dan Haggerty's NBC squad, with Donna Mills, Robert Conrad, Patrick Duffy, and Michelle Phillips.

Don't laugh.

You ever try kayaking with makeup on?Now you see 'em .

.

.

After only one episode, I'm ready to nominate NBC's The Philanthropist for most pretentious TV show in history.

But it was a blooper, not the contrived premise, that caught my eye.

In the series' opening scene, the hero is riding hell-for-leather on a dirt bike to deliver a vaccine to a remote Nigerian village.

The show goes to inordinate lengths to establish that he's barefoot.

Seconds later, when rebels shoot the bike out from underneath him, the stuntman comes tumbling toward the camera, boots first.

Focus, please, people.Double dipping.

I love it when TV presents old wine in new bottles.

On Sunday night, for instance, you could have seen Michelle Forbes as the sinister enchantress Maryann on HBO's True Blood.

Remember when Forbes was the crusty coroner on Homicide: Life on the Street? Or maybe at the same hour you were watching Steven Culp as the president of the United States on the ABC mini-series Impact.

I will always think of Culp as Bree's first husband, Rex, on Desperate Housewives.

It's always great to see familiar faces.Putting on the ditz.

The strangest sequence of the week came on Rescue Me when Sean, still comatose from his kidney surgery, drifted into an imaginary song-and-dance vision, tapping around swankily in a top hat and tails while crooning the cheery sentiment, "How lovely it is to be a vegetable." What is this? The Singing Detective? The aforementioned Michael Gambon mini- series, by the way, is another nominee for most pretentious TV project ever.Dancing to an oldie.

There was a great musical moment, however, on Virtuality, last night's sci-fi movie on Fox.

The crew on a spaceship have these fantasy chambers (hence the title) where they can place themselves in personally customized settings.

(Just like the holodeck on Star Trek: The Next Generation.) One woman re-creates herself as a rock star on a stage, screaming out the lyrics to the formerly instrumental theme from The Munsters - in Japanese, no less.

Man, I wish there had been subtitles for that.Contact staff writer David Hiltbrand at 215-854-4552 or [email protected]

Read his recent work at http://go.philly.com/ daveondemand.



http://www.philly.com/philly/entertainment/television/20090627_Dave_on_Demand__Celebrity-athlete_pairings_on_ABC_are_not_one_bit_super.html
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