Friday, December 6, 2002
Proof that Aerosmith front man Steven Tyler will do anything, and I mean anything, to keep his gaunt mug in the public gaze can be found tonight on the depressingly slick "Lizzie McGuire" (6:30 p.m., Disney) holiday special. Titled "Xtreme Xmas," this episode stars Tyler as the scrawniest Santa Claus in the long, sad history of bad Christmas specials. One wonders why Tyler was cast as the jolly round guy. With his reptilian features and rubbery lips, he wouldn't need makeup to play the Grinch.
For those unfamiliar with the franchise, "Lizzie McGuire" stars Hilary Duff in the title role as a smart, but often flustered, blond teen whose inner thoughts and frustrations appear in brief cartoon snippets. This allows Lizzie to be both a real character (like the Olsen Twins) and a cartoon character (like SpongeBob). The licensing possibilities are endless.
In addition to the overexposed Mr. Tyler, "Xtreme Xmas" features vintage comedian Shelley Berman as one of Santa's sardonic elves. The story involves Lizzie's manic desire to compete in a contest to build a float for a Christmas parade. She gets so carried away in her desire to build the perfect "rock and roll Christmas" float that she loses the spirit of the holidays. But the only sentiment present here is the spirit of self-promotion. Tyler concludes "Xmas" with a screeching version of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town."
- Do children and grown-ups inhabit separate worlds? The new animated series "Codename: Kids Next Door" (6 p.m., Cartoon Network) operates on the premise that children are at constant war with adults, who are always trying to cramp their style. The cartoon follows five 10-year-olds who fancy themselves super-secret agents in this intergenerational struggle.
Tonight's first episode recalls the music and pyrotechnics of a dozen Bond movies as the kids take on the adult meanies who are bent on keeping them from their fair share of ice cream. Although occasionally witty and action-packed, "Codename" is a little short on character development. It's difficult to differentiate between five children who call themselves Numbah One, Numbah Two, etc.
- Contemporary country star Travis Tritt pays homage to musical legend Ray Charles on "Crossroads" (7 p.m., CMT). Both men hail from Georgia, and each artist has been influenced by that state's confluence of musical styles, including blues, rock, country, soul, bluegrass and gospel. Ray Charles' 1962 album "Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music" remains a classic example of a "crossover" hit. Tritt and Charles join to perform favorites, including "Georgia on My Mind," "I'm Movin' On" and "Between an Old Memory and Me."
Tonight's other highlights
- Scheduled on "48 Hours" (7 p.m., CBS): two 40-year-old women discover they were switched at birth.
- William Shatner stars in the 1984 fantasy "Star Trek III: The Search for Spock" (7 p.m., UPN).
- A devoted, if delusional, dog (Drew Barrymore) mistakenly believes that Santa needs her to pull his sled in the animated holiday special "Olive, the Other Reindeer" (8 p.m., WB).
- A rape victim's family may have contributed to her plight on "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" (9 p.m., NBC).
- Scheduled on "20/20" (9 p.m., ABC): Manhattan's nursery school scandal; a hairdresser solves a 20-year-old murder mystery; teens discuss social pressures to become sexually active.
Gene Wilder and Jack Albertson star in the 1971 musical fantasy "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" (8 p.m., Family).
Syd's cold grows uncommonly virulent on "Providence" (7 p.m., NBC).