ABC offers unkindest cut of all

Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Remember the 1950s daytime show "Queen for a Day"? Every afternoon, four housewives appeared before host Jack Bailey and recounted their sad stories. A studio audience chose the most pathetic woman and crowned her "queen." She'd appear in a tiara and leave with a washing machine and other prizes. Viewers loved it because they got to cry and feel superior at the same time. Pity and voyeurism, mixed with a strong dose of relief, make for powerful entertainment. Just ask Oprah.

Today's "Queen" equivalent has to be "Extreme Makeover" (9:10 p.m., ABC), a seven-episode series. More than 7,000 people applied for a makeover. That's 7,000 folks who are so unhappy with their sagging flesh, wrinkles, big noses or other physical attributes that they will undergo plastic surgery and other medical indignities on national television.

Tonight's "lucky" winners are Kine, a 29-year-old hair stylist from Chicago, and Tammy, a 40-year-old mother of three from Florida. Kine was born with extremely large lips. So she's up for upper- and lower-lip reduction, a breast lift, liposuction, teeth whitening and laser eye surgery. And we get to see every gruesome detail.

After years of chasing after toddlers, Tammy worries that her whole body has "gone south." She submits to a facelift, eyelifts, rhinoplasty, laser resurfacing and teeth whitening and straightening.

After many painful "before" scenes, both women exult in their joyous "after" shots, complete with coming-out parties and hugs. They don't get a tiara, so a whole new face will have to do.

Tonight's other highlights

Series notes

Arsenio Hall is host of "Star Search" (7 p.m., CBS) ... Seth Green guest stars on "That '70s Show" (7 p.m., Fox,) ... A question of discipline on "My Wife and Kids" (7 p.m., ABC) ... Phlox's dilemma on "Enterprise" (7 p.m., UPN) ... Insider trading on "Dawson's Creek" (7 p.m.) ... Carmen's new pal raises eyebrows on "George Lopez" (7:30 p.m., ABC).

Costly magic on "The Twilight Zone" (8 p.m., UPN) ... Up from the sewers on "Angel" (8 p.m., WB) ... Wanda rocks a wake on "Wanda at Large" (8:30 p.m., Fox).

Late night

Vince Vaughn, Sarah Vowell and Beck appear on "Late Show with David Letterman" (10:35 p.m., CBS) ... Jay Leno welcomes Bill Maher and Fleetwood Mac on "The Tonight Show" (10:35 p.m., NBC).