Week In Sloth: “Sharkageddon,” “Wizard Wars” And “Epic Ink”

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Thursday 14

“Society X With Laura Ling” (E! 9pm) The TV of today has done a perfect job of substituting for the politically incorrect circus sideshow of yesteryear. It allows us to gawk at people who are quite unlike us—a difference for which we are profoundly grateful. Instead of little people, pickled punks and microcephalics, we’re now gawking at rich kids, rednecks and the Amish. … Oh, and little people, still. This “news” show, for example, introduces us to individuals on the fringes of culture. In tonight’s premiere, for example, we get to explore the world of people who undergo plastic surgery to become “living dolls.” Gawk away.

“Sharkageddon” (Discovery 8pm) Used to be you could easily tell the difference between Discovery Channel’s education-based Shark Week programming and the exploitative rip-offs Syfy uses to chum the waters. Those days are gone.

Friday 15

How to Build a Better Boy (Disney 9pm) Hey, two nerdy boys got to build the perfect female in 1985’s Weird Science. It’s only fair that two nerdy girls should get to build the perfect male in this made-for-TV sci-fi/fantasy.

Saturday 16

“Doctor Who: The Ultimate Companion” (BBC America 7pm) You can tell when a new season of “Doctor Who” is finally approaching: BBC opens the floodgates on a string of behind-the-scenes retrospectives. Why, here’s one now.

Sunday 17

“T.D. Jakes 35th Anniversary” (BET 8pm) Televangelist T.D. Jakes celebrates the 35th anniversary of his megachurch ministry with the help of celebrity guests Oprah Winfrey, Tyler Perry and Chaka Khan. I guess Oprah is big on Oneness Pentecostalism, the nontrinitarian theological doctrine of the singular Godhead.

Monday 18

“Doctor Who: The Ultimate Time Lord” (BBC America 8pm) August 23. You have to wait until August 23 to see the new season with Peter Capaldi. In the meantime, here’s some more “best of” clips.

“Carnival Eats” (Cooking 8:30pm) Because the title “Stomach Cramps on the Ferris Wheel” was a bit T.M.I.

Tuesday 19

“Wizard Wars” (Syfy 8pm) Magicians Penn & Teller—who already have a reality competition show in The CW’s “Fool Us”—add to the resume. Here, teams of magicians must work to create jaw-dropping illusions from random objects. P&T judge the winner.

“Young Doctor’s Notebook” (Ovation 8pm) This unusual series—based on a collection of short stories by Russian playwright Mikhail Bulgakov—manages to be both witty and grim. Jon Hamm and Daniel Radcliffe play the older and younger incarnations of a drug-addicted doctor stuck in rural Russia at the start of the revolution.

Wednesday 20

“Epic Ink” (A&E 8:30pm) Tattoo parlors are like tumbleweeds: They pop up in previously abandoned strip malls, slowly filling up our city by the dozens. Apparently on TV they’re no different. Empty time slots are slowly filling up with reality shows about tattoo artists. Case in point: “Epic Ink.”
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