I hope The Factory (Sunday, 10 p.m., Spike) doesn’t get overlooked in the middle of the cable dial. It’s a working-class answer to The Office, featuring four regular Joes who run the machines in a dreary factory. They banter in the break room, hash out their marital problems and attend the occasional wake for a coworker ground up in the gears.
    These guys aren’t the brightest bulbs, but “The Factory” doesn’t make the mistake of looking down on them. Like  The Office, it finds the perfect tone of deadpan absurdity, so that our heroes are ridiculous without being objects of contempt. The cast is attuned to the script’s eccentric comic rhythms, which get you smiling without the aid of a laugh track.
    I plan to clock in at The Factory at 10 p.m. sharp every week.

“The Baby Borrowers”
Wednesday, 8 p.m. (NBC)
    In this reality series, five teenage couples are shown what the future may hold. After being set up in a home, they’re asked to care for an infant, then a toddler, then an adolescent, then a senior citizen. They stumble through every challenge and learn about the responsibilities associated with adult life.{mosimage}
    Interesting. But one can’t help wondering what happens to the infants, toddlers, adolescents and senior citizens once The Baby Borrowers is through with them. Are they simply returned to the prop shop and made available to other reality series?

“AFI Lifetime Achievement Award”
Wednesday, 9 p.m. (USA)
    Every time you turn around, Warren Beatty is picking up a lifetime-achievement award. He gets another one here, despite the fact that he hasn’t directed a film in 10 years or acted in one in seven.
    Maybe if Beatty skipped a few lifetime-achievement ceremonies he’d actually have time to achieve something again.

“The Secret Life of an American Teenager”
Tuesday, 8 p.m. (ABC Family)

    This family series from the creator of 7th Heaven is set in a high school obsessed with sex. Good girl Amy has shocked her friends by getting pregnant at band camp. Meanwhile, the football star lusts after his cheerleader girlfriend, but both are Christians committed to abstinence … for now. The new nerdy kid has his eye on Amy, but so does the cad who knocked her up. The adult characters can only stand around and wring their hands, including one time teen-sex-movie star Molly Ringwald as Amy’s mom. (The fact that Ringwald is now tormented by her own screen daughter can only be called poetic justice.)
    I’d welcome a series that offered insight into adolescent sexual activity, but this isn’t the one. Oddly, none of the teenage actors comes across like a real teenager. Blame a script that makes the nerd too nerdy, the slut too slutty, the jerk too jerky, etc. Nothing rings true, and the tone veers awkwardly from earnest to satirical.
    The only line delivered with real passion comes from a friend of Amy’s, speaking to another friend: “You’d better not be suggesting she get an abortion!” This is clearly something the filmmakers feel strongly about, since an abortion would spoil their trumped-up scenario.

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