Friday, August 1, 2003
"My Life as a Teenage Robot" (7:30 p.m., Nickelodeon) joins a growing list of youth-centric shows about superheroes in the throes of teenage angst.
Jenny (voiced by Janice Kawaye) may be a curvy metallic robot charged with saving the world from villains and space debris, but she really wants to hang out with other teenagers, coo over boy bands and shop at the mall. She's oddly attracted to Brad (Chad Doreck), the bland boy next door, and his bratty younger brother Tuck (Audrey Wasilewski).
Armed (literally) with a powerful arsenal of rockets, lasers and the like, Jenny has large antennae ears that alert her to looming disaster. They also give her a bunnylike appearance, an odd nod to the Playboy sensibility for a children's cartoon.
According to Nickelodeon executive Cyma Zarghami, Jenny "captures the essence of being a kid who wants to fit in." But the image of a young girl as a robotic, conformist consumer may make some viewers gag. The cartoon's groovy animation ("My Life" creator Rob Renzetti also worked on "Dexter's Laboratory" and "Powerpuff Girls") can't compensate for its sad subtext.
- Created by brothers Will and Douglas McRobb ("The Adventures of Pete and Pete"), the new tween series "Radio Free Roscoe" (7:30 p.m., Noggin) stars four future heartthrobs as high school freshmen who moonlight as amateur DJs at an "underground" radio station in their small hometown.
You have to wonder if today's 14-year-olds have a notion of what free-form underground radio meant to their parents, aunts and uncles. As in many teen movies and TV shows, the improbably good-looking cast of "Roscoe" speaks with the world-weary pop sophistication of jaded 35-year-olds.
- "Inside the Pentagon" on "NOW with Billy Moyers" (8 p.m., PBS) presents an extensive interview with former Air Force Capt. Chuck Spinney, who argues that we are spending billions to fight enemies that no longer exist and squandering opportunities to meet the current and future terrorist threats. Appalled by its culture of decadent waste, Spinney has nicknamed the Pentagon "Versailles on the Potomac." This is his first television interview since leaving the military.
Tonight's other highlights
- Scheduled on "Dateline" (7 p.m., NBC): an interview with three former U.S. POWs.
- On back-to-back episodes of "Bernie Mac" (Fox): a surprise visit (7 p.m.), domestic bliss undone (7:30 p.m.).
- Hanson baby-sits for his troubled sister on "Boston Public" (8 p.m., Fox).
- Kenny Chesney performs for 61,000 Nashville fans in the concert special "Back Where I Come From" (7 p.m., CMT).
- A victim has a surprising secret on "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" (9 p.m., NBC).
- Scheduled on "20/20" (9 p.m., ABC): Internet spam; forensic detectives; Wynonna Judd; corporate patents run amok.
- George adjusts to (after)life with her new roommate (Laura Harris), a flighty 1930s Hollywood fixture, on "Dead Like Me" (9 p.m., Showtime).