THREE SWEET PICKS TO GET YOU THROUGH THE WEEK.

By Leo Charney
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Jan. 2, 2008

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On Demand: HBO
What: British show about an extra-turned-sitcom-star.
Why: Think Curb Your Enthusiasm is too pleasant? Try Ricky Gervais' surpassingly sour series about the rise and fall of a fame-seeking extra. It tells a complete story arc in 12 episodes and one movie-length finale, all available On Demand until Jan. 14, after which the whole thing comes out on DVD. It's the self-satirizing guest stars who make the show work, even when its ceaseless cruelties and self-important tone get hard to take. Highlights include a randy Daniel Radcliffe, a mocking David Bowie and a narcissistic Orlando Bloom.

The Dark Knight Trailer

Online
What: Preview of summer Batman blockbuster.
Why: First came Cesar Romero--campy and over-the-top. Then Jack Nicholson--menacing and over-the-top. Then ... Heath Ledger? Director Christopher Nolan loves to take chances, and this Joker, who looks like Beetlejuice's evil twin, is a perfect match for Christian Bale's monotone man in black. Nolan goes back to the original idea of Batman and Joker as film-noir-style doubles (no surprise, since all his movies become films noir). "To them, you're just a freak," Joker intones--adding with a gleeful cackle, "Like me!"

Crowned: The Mother of All Pageants

Online: cwtv.com
What: Reality competition with mothers and daughters.
Why: With no end in sight to the writers' strike, this CW series hits all the bases--unique gimmick, ritualistic elimination, three-judge panel and snickering mockery of delusional contestants. The mother/daughter teams are judged on vague pageant-y criteria, while exhibiting haughtiness, nastiness, cliquishness and even self-flagellation (see team "Hot and Not"). While you're waiting for Jon Stewart to come back, you can check out even more clips, profiles and interviews online.

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