Secret Diary of a Call Girl blends the two in a novel way

    Secret Diary of a Call Girl (Monday, 10:30 p.m., Showtime) is based on the blog of a high-priced London prostitute. Billie Piper plays Hannah, a legal secretary by day and call girl by night. It sounds like a familiar scenario, but a team of female writers bring a fresh perspective to the material. They get inside Hannah’s head and create a credible portrait of a smart, strong woman in a strange situation.{mosimage}
    Secret Diary of a Call Girl is billed as a comedy, but it’s melancholy rather than madcap. In this week’s episode, Hannah has sex with her accountant in exchange for his services, granting his wish to become an S&M slave. Even when the accountant strips down to a leather dog collar, though, the filmmakers avoid cheap laughs in favor of thoughtfully exploring the bond between these two professionals. The episode ends with each sincerely apologizing to the other.
    I order you to watch this series, slave.

Shear Genius
Wednesday, 10 p.m. (Bravo)
    A dozen hairstylists come to L.A. to compete for $100,000. It sounds like another high-stakes reality series for talented artists, à la Top Chef and Project Runway. But it’s hard to take this one seriously.
For one thing, it looks like an exotic animal crawled onto each contestant’s head, then died a horrible death. How can you take them seriously as stylists when their own styles are so absurd? For another thing, snipping just isn’t too intriguing as an art form. “It really fails for me on all levels,” an Allure editor says of a styling job. But really, how many levels does a haircut have?
    In an attempt to generate excitement, the series dreams up bizarre challenges. The stylists have to re-create the hairdos of cartoon characters like Marge Simpson and Wilma Flintstone; they also have to cut hair blindfolded.
    It turns out that the blindfolded cuts don’t look much different from the eyes-wide-open cuts. Doesn’t that tell you something?

The Singing Office
Sunday, 9 p.m. (TLC)
    Colleagues from 16 companies take time off work to attend a song-and-dance boot camp, then face off against each other in a vocal competition.
    Instead of working, apparently, American employees are wailing “Proud Mary” at the top of their lungs. Now we know why the Gross National Product is heading south.

Celebrity Family Feud
Tuesday, 8 p.m. (NBC)
    Don’t get too excited by the word “celebrity.” This series features has-beens and wannabes like Mr. T and Kim Kardashian. Their families compete in a quiz format to win $50,000 for charity.
    How about donating the money to a charity for third-tier celebrities so that financial need won’t drive them to participate in demeaning TV series?

America’s Got Talent
Tuesday, 9 p.m. (NBC)
    NBC has the nerve to make the title a declarative sentence. Anybody who’s been watching the series will mentally place a question mark after the word “Talent.”

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