by TED S. McGREGOR JR. & r & & r & What Not To Wear & r & & r & (TLC, new episodes Fridays at 9pm) & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & D & lt;/span & uring my first semester in college, I remember wandering down into the laundry room one night to find an upperclassman picking through the clothes of one of my classmates, plucking shirts out and tossing them in the garbage can. "He really can't wear this around campus," he explained as he held up one of those rayon picture shirts that were apparently popular in my classmate's hometown of Richland.
Man, I wish I had written a treatment based on that experience, because throwing away ugly clothes makes for surprisingly good TV. See it for yourself on the Learning Channel's What Not To Wear, hosted by New York fashion guru Stacy London (who is quite funny) and former fashion magazine editor Clinton Kelly. Carrying out the show's shallow premise -- that you are what you wear -- Stacy and Clinton prove that you can reinvent yourself by upgrading your wardrobe.
People nominate their fashion-don't friends, and Stacy and Clinton surprise them, play a secretly taped video proving how bad they look and offer salvation. They'll get a $5,000 shopping spree in New York, but they have to turn their closets over. This is the best part of the show, when Stacy and Clinton pick through their god-awful get-ups, slinging zingers as they drop the shirts, pants and shoes into the trashcan. They dish out a dressing down that borders on cruel -- "this is like therapy," one poor woman wept into the camera after the experience.
After shopping alone for a day, then with Stacy and Clinton, the fashion victim gets a makeover with hair stylist Nick Arrojo and makeup artist Carmindy (just Carmindy). But the end result is not the interesting part -- no, it's the psychology that keeps you watching. Why does that supermom really wear her jammies out around town all day? And what's up with the cute girl's fascination with the skull-and-crossbones motif on every piece of clothing she owns? And how hard will it be for Stacy and Clinton to beat some fashion sense into them?
So the final "reveal" in front of family and friends is more predictable than dramatic -- mom cries, coworkers hug and the newly hatched swan pirouettes, grinning helplessly. It's probably not surprising that a gang of expert fashion mavens can fix you up. But who knew shopping really can be therapeutic? I guess that's why they called it The Learning Channel!
Lonesome Dove is a great Western novel, and Larry McMurtry wrote three other books about the characters, Gus and Call, from the Pulitzer Prize-winning original, including Comanche Moon. Now that one is getting the mini series treatment, with Steve Zahn as Gus and Karl Urban as Call back in their younger days. (Part 1 is 9 pm, Sunday, 1/13; Parts 2 and 3 are Tuesday and Wednesday, 1/15-16, also at 9 pm, CBS)
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
If you're geeky enough to wonder what happened between the films T:2 and T:3, now you can find out as The Sarah Connor Chronicles documents the trouble with raising a teenager who also happens to be the savior of humanity. Starring Lena Headey (300) as Sarah. (8 pm, Sunday, 1/13, Fox)
In the premiere of Season 20 of American Experience, PBS has a winner in Robert Stone's critically acclaimed documentary on the assassination of John F. Kennedy -- and all the conspiracy theories that have spun out of it. Featuring interviews with Mark Lane and Norman Mailer and new archival material. (9 pm, Monday, 1/14, PBS)