The Tuesday Playlist: ESPN at the Summitt, Drunk History, Paula Judges Dance
Remember when ABC Sports used to go "up close and personal" in its profiles of athletic greats? In its terrific new "Nine for IX" series of documentaries about women's accomplishments in sports, ESPN Films applies that same intimate, emotional style to a true legend of college basketball, University of Tennessee coach Pat Summitt, in the video love letter Pat XO (Tuesday, 8/7c, ESPN). Produced by Good Morning America's Robin Roberts, this entertaining collage of testimonials from players and colleagues — with Summitt's grown son Tyler providing an emotional narrative thread — is underscored with sadness in the wake of her diagnosis last year with early-onset Alzheimer's.
The toughness, drive and force of character that made her the NCAA's most winning coach (1098 wins, eight national titles) also define her approach to illness. "Dementia has never met an opponent like Pat Summitt," says former star player Chamique Holdsclaw, one of many who learned about much more than sport from their beloved coach.
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HISTORY HAPPY HOUR: Ever had that feeling that you're the only sober person in a room full of fools who think they're the funniest things ever? Welcome to Comedy Central's Drunk History (10/9c), a zero-proof new series that plays like one of those botched skits in the last half-hour of Saturday Night Live (the comedy equivalent of toilet paper stuck to the bottom of one's shoe) that just keeps on going and going despite all of the flop sweat. The gimmick here is that people you've probably never heard of get plastered and go on camera to give their bleary versions of such historical milestones as Lincoln's assassination and the Watergate scandal. Actual celebrities re-enact these fractured narratives, lip-syncing to the often-incoherent dialogue (the few times the stunt is actually funny). When you have talent like Adam Scott (John Wilkes Booth), Bob Odenkirk (Nixon) and Jack Black (Elvis) on hand, why not let them improv their own material? They're wasted as puppets trapped in this sad, thin vaudeville.
In happier Comedy Central news, Drunk is followed by a new season of The Jeselnik Offensive (10:30), fronted by nastier-than-he-looks Anthony Jeselnik, who skewers all manner of sacred cows, this week with the help of comics Jim Norton and Amy Schumer, fresh off the first-season success of her Inside Amy Schumer show (already renewed).
DANCING QUEEN: Having made the rounds of nearly every other reality-competition show, former American Idol-The X Factor enthusiast Paula Abdul drops by Fox's So You Think You Can Dance (8/7c) to gush over the Top 18 as a guest judge. Let's hope the eliminations are better handled than last week's painfully awkward experiment of announcing the losers at the top of the night and then forcing them to dance with their nearly-as-traumatized partners later in the show. Why not use the current week's dance to make a more informed decision as to who should stay and who should go?
THE TUESDAY GUIDE: PBS's Frontline and Bill Moyers team up to revisit Two American Families (check tvguide.com listings), the latest report in a two-decade documentary project that follows two Milwaukee families — one black, one white — trying to stay above water in a punishing economy. ... CBS did us all a favor by passing on yet another NCIS spin-off with the uninspired "Red" backdoor pilot, the first part of which is repeated on NCIS: LA (9/8c). ... Syfy stretches the definition of "celebrity" a bit with its first not-quite-all-star edition of Total Blackout (11/10c), in which Eureka's Neil Grayston (Fargo!), actress Erin Way, reality-TV veteran Bob Guiney and musician Aubrey O'Day venture into the dark to play for charity.
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