Friday, December 19, 2003
All I want for Christmas is to review a show based on an original idea. How many times do we have to watch shows resort to the same tired variation on "It's A Wonderful Life"?
This season we've seen characters from "Life with Bonnie" and "One on One" go through the motions of imitating the Capra classic. Tonight, the cable comedy "Even Stevens" (6:30 p.m., Disney) repeats a 2000 episode in which Louis (Shia LeBeouf) has a horrible Hanukkah experience and wishes he never existed. With the help of an elderly and angelic relative, he then sees just how dull things would be without him.
I propose that some clever screenwriter create a show or movie that ponders what their life would be if they never saw "It's a Wonderful Life" and had to wrack their brains for something new.
Other holiday offerings include another airing of the often-repeated 1989 comedy "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" (8 p.m., NBC). Nick Stabile stars as the jolly guy's offspring in the 2000 made-for-TV comedy "Santa Jr." (7 p.m., Hallmark). The practical-minded can learn a few holiday tips on "Christmas Design on a Dime" (9 p.m., HGTV).
- Dumb blondes never go out of style. They just get dumber. You would have thought the capsizing of Anna Nicole Smith's reality show would have doomed the trend, but 2003 saw the improbable rise of the baby-talking Jessica Simpson on MTV's "Newlyweds." The career path of the former professional virgin and extraordinarily dim singer is celebrated on "Driven" (9 p.m., VH1). Simpson can also be seen chatting with Jay Leno on "The Tonight Show" (10:35 p.m., NBC). Leno's other guests include Terry Bradshaw and Jim Brown.
- Speaking of singers whose careers have been helped by television, Ruben Studdard of "American Idol" fame sits down for an interview with Ann Curry on "Dateline" (7 p.m., NBC). Other scheduled stories include an interview with a master pickpocket and the countdown of the top five entertainers of the year.
- Mark L. Walberg is host for the season finale of "House Rules" (7 p.m., TBS). In this episode, one team gets to keep the house they've been renovating over the past 12 weeks. Faithful viewers got to cast their votes last week for the winner. A variation on any number of design and reality series, "Rules" set a new low in commercially sponsored product placement.
Tonight's other highlights
- Sean Connery and Honor Blackman star in the 1964 James Bond adventure "Goldfinger" (7 p.m., UPN).
- With the third installment in theaters, viewers may want to return to "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" (8 p.m., Starz), the 2001 film that began the trilogy.
- Scheduled on "20/20" (9 p.m., ABC): an interview with Jermaine and Jackie Jackson about their troubled brother Michael.