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Sunday, April 20, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 71.0° F  Overcast


The Kardashians conquer all
Don't say you weren't warned

They're taking over city by city.
They're taking over city by city.
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The Kardashian sisters are taking over our country, and we're just letting it happen. I don't mean to point fingers, because I'm just as complicit as everyone else.

The Kardashians emerged on the national scene as a stunningly irrelevant reality-TV family from Los Angeles. But those were the devil-may-care days of 2007, so we let it pass. Slowly, the Kardashian sisters began showing up everywhere, from awards shows to talk shows to commercials, despite having no talent and nothing to say. Did we sit up and pay attention when E! premiered Kourtney & Khloe Take Miami, even though the title made the goal of conquest explicit? No, we didn't.

In the new Kourtney & Kim Take New York (Sunday, 9 p.m., E!), a different configuration of Kardashian sisters is dispatched to Manhattan to "take" it, too. Will we be sorry when E! premieres Kourtney, Khloe & Kim Take the White House, Suspend Your Civil Liberties and Require You to Buy All Their Products?

Yes, we will. But by then, it will be too late.

Being Human
Monday, 8 pm (SyFy)

Showtime's new Episodes is a spoof of Hollywood's habit of importing wonderful British TV series only to ruin them through Americanization. Being Human is the genuine article: a show that gave you chills on England's BBC and now appears as this week's junk on our own SyFy.

The original series took a seemingly silly premise a vampire, a werewolf and a ghost share an apartment and turned it into a profound exploration of humanity. The American version has no use for complicated relationships or subtle psychological details. Instead, we get heavy-handed dialogue, musical cues that tell us how to feel at every moment, and corny comedy. Worst of all, the rounded characters of the British version have devolved into types.

So much for the philosophical inquiry into Being Human. This version would be better titled Being Stick Figures.

Perfect Couples
Thursday, 7:30 pm (NBC)

The irony begins with the title: the three romantic pairs in this new sitcom are not "perfect couples." One (Kyle Bornheimer, Christine Woods) is completely messed up, one (Dave Walton, Mary Elizabeth Ellis) is moderately messed up, and a third (Hayes MacArthur, Olivia Munn) is so obsessed with creating the therapy-approved version of an ideal union that it's just freakish. "And by revealing out needs we forge a bond toward becoming one!" the partners chant in unison. "I feel heard and validated!"

The writing is strong, as is the acting. And the series has that magic Friends number of attractive and talented young stars: six. Perfect Couples is not at the Friends level, by any means, but it's got tons of promise. So far, it definitely makes me feel heard and validated.

Parks and Recreation
Thursday, 8:30 pm (NBC)

On Saturday Night Live, Amy Poehler established herself as one of our greatest comedians with a wide range of colorful characters. Parks and Recreation has never seemed like the right vehicle for her, since it confines her to one character, and a colorless one at that. Leslie Knope is an earnest bureaucrat in the parks department of Pawnee, Ind., the sort who takes her pathetic job too seriously. (Think color-coded binders.)

Thanks to a strong cast, the series itself is pretty funny. Not as funny as its model, The Office, but funny enough to warrant a "yippee!" as the third season premieres.

Leslie's budget has been slashed, so she decides to revive the once-popular Pawnee Harvest Festival as a way to attract more funding. This plotline will unfold over several episodes and, if I know my Parks and Recreation Department, end in disaster. Like The Office, this sitcom bases its success on failure.

Fairly Legal
Thursday, 9 pm (USA)

With every other lawyer-series angle covered, Fairly Legal dramatizes the life of a mediator. Sandra Bullock look-alike Kate Reed (Sarah Shahi) hammers out fair compromises between hostile parties, urging each side to make concessions.

"Hammering out fair compromises" doesn't sound terribly exciting, does it? I guess that's why Fairly Legal dresses Kate up in tight leather miniskirts and singles-bar heels (for court appearances!). It also gives her a foul mouth and a cutesy relationship with judges.

Tell you what, Fairly Legal. You make Kate behave more like a professional mediator and I'll watch another episode. Okay, make it two more episodes. Do we have a deal?

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