Snap Judgement


Dead Like Me

Fridays at 10 p.m. ET, Showtime.

The cable network's latest exercise in HBO envy raises at least one compelling question: is it possible to take a show seriously after the main character is killed off in the first 10 minutes by a toilet seat falling from the Mir space station? After her untimely death, 18-year-old Georgia Lass (Ellen Muth) finds afterlife employment as a "grim reaper"--basically, she's the welcome wagon for the newly dead--and, along the way, learns to appreciate the life she no longer has. "Dead Like Me" wants to be "Six Feet Under's" kooky kid brother, but this witless, graceless series is dead on arrival.


Premieres July 22 at 10 p.m., FX.

Plastic surgeons. Miami. Cable TV. We are sooo there. "Nip/Tuck," a drama about a pair of breast men, one an amoral playboy (Julian McMahon), the other a good-hearted square (Dylan Walsh), boasts the most sensational--and sensationalistic--hook for a series in recent memory. So it's hardly fair to knock the show for lacking restraint. If you're gonna go for it, after all, go for it. But the pilot is so insanely violent (a torture scene involving Botox is especially icky) that it obscures some snappy writing and two fine performances by McMahon and Walsh. We'll keep watching--but either the blood goes or we do.

History Detectives

Premieres July 14 at 8 p.m., PBS.

Every small town has its treasured local legend. Did Ulysses S. Grant really sign the firehouse logbook? Did Bonnie and Clyde really spend a night in town during their crime spree? In this charming series, four gumshoe academics hop from town to town and use their expertise to determine whether the local legends hold water. The "detectives" aren't exactly seasoned TV veterans, but that only ups the sincerity. Everyone involved takes these tiny mysteries seriously, and you'll find yourself caring as much as they do.


Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle

Directed by McG

The casting of Bernie Mac as Bill Murray's brother and John Cleese as Lucy Liu's father is a fair tip-off that logic, coherence and credibility are not the issues here. In McG's excitably decadent sequel the Angelic trio--Liu, Cameron Diaz and Drew Barrymore--must track down two rings encrypted with the names of-- oh, you'll see. The stars' giggly, wiggly high spirits (and lots of taut skin) help distract us from the subpar f/x and a sound mix that renders many of the jokes inaudible. This is one of the silliest movies ever made--and lots of instantly forgettable fun.

The Eye

Directed by Oxide and Danny Pang

From the Hong Kong filmmaking twins comes this unnerving chiller about a blind woman (Lee Sin-je) who gets a corneal transplant. This turns out to be a mixed blessing: she gets both sight and second sight, enabling her to foresee impending catastrophes and consort with ghosts. The buildup, when everything remains a riddle, is far more satisfying than the explanation. But despite an overwrought finale, this stylish horror film is genuinely creepy. See it before the inevitable Hollywood remake.

Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas

Directed by Patrick Gilmore and Tim Johnson

Framed for stealing the Book of Life, the roguish Sinbad (voice: Brad Pitt) is saved from the chopping block when his friend Proteus (Joseph Fiennes) offers his own life as collateral so Sinbad can recover the sacred text. Despite the cool monsters, the cute slobbering dog and Catherine Zeta-Jones's swashbuckling Marina, "Sinbad" comes off as surprisingly unmagical, with characters you only half care about. After you've seen "Finding Nemo," the animation here feels secondhand.