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The Week In TV

Awards, reruns, and the inevitable return of The Situation. This was the week in TV Land:

• The biggest TV news of the past week was probably the one-two punch of the Golden Globe and SAG Award nominees. Both, in case you were curious, included some spectacularly bone-headed kudos to series that should probably be left alone and allowed to die quiet deaths before they can harm any more viewers.

On the Globe side, the weirdest nomination was easily Piper Perabo for best actress in a TV drama for USA's Covert Affairs. The group is rounded out by more respectable dramatic performances (Elisabeth Moss for Mad Men, Katey Sagal for Sons of Anarchy) and the bland roles that feel like TV filler (Julianna Margulies for The Good Wife, Kyra Sedgwick for The Closer). But: Piper Perabo, she of Coyote Ugly and late-night cable staple Lost and Delirious, just makes no sense. The show is Alias lite and totally harmless, and tapping Perabo for best dramatic actress is ludicrous. The HFPA is so keen on getting young, pretty people in the seats at their show to make for a more appealing telecast that they're willing to throw out nominations like this one.

The SAG noms didn't fare much better. The actor-focused awards give out trophies to ensembles yet seem to have no idea just what an ensemble really is or should be able to do. Case in point: the cast of Hot in Cleveland is nominated for best TV comedy ensemble. You haven't seen Hot in Cleveland because it's on TV Land and it's terrible. The only reason the show got nominated was because 2010 was the year of Betty White, and the SAG folks wanted to give her one last nominee before the calendar ran out. Although the group at Modern Family got a well-deserved nod, the ensembles from Community and Parks and Recreation went overlooked, all so some abysmal TV comedy from a cable net no one watches could try and ride the end of the Betty White meme.

The rest of the nominees are pretty standard, but it's impossible to care about any major awards show because the awards themselves are always pointless. Good movies and TV shows can win awards, but winning an award doesn't make something good. Not even Hot in Cleveland.

• Good news: Jack Huston, the fantastic actor who plays the scarred war veteran Richard Harrow on Boardwalk Empire, has been upped to a series regular for the HBO drama's second season. Every one of his scenes in the first season was riveting; the guy was the only one who could not only share the frame with Steve Buscemi but actually steal the spotlight from him. I'm glad we'll get to see more of him when the show returns next fall.

• Does anyone else remember when Comedy Central showed actual roasts? Not these network-branded, pathetic attempts at satire that turn into 2-hour dick jokes about Bea Arthur; I mean the actual televised versions of the Friars Club roasts, which featured legitimate comedians who've done more with their careers than just appear on Comedy Central roasts. The Drew Carey and Rob Reiner roasts in particular had some great moments. Nowadays, they roast people like Pamela Anderson and do nothing but make sure people like Lisa Lampanelli can pay the rent. The best moment of their Bob Saget roast was when Norm MacDonald did a high-concept riff on cheesy, polite jokes.

The Comedy Central Roast of Bob Saget
Outtakes - Norm MacDonald Pt. 1
Funny Jokes It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia Ugly Americans

Anyway, it was announced last week that Comedy Central's next roastee will be Donald Trump, who received the Friars Club treatment in 2004 but this time around will be used to prop up commercials for Taco Bell and Girls Gone Wild. The show tapes in March and will air not long after, so if you're bored or stoned, keep your eyes out.

• The Civil War is cycling back into vogue. In addition to Steven Spielberg's upcoming biopic about Lincoln, AMC has given a 10-episode order to Hell on Wheels, set during the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad and the brutal, racist, divisive tensions that gripped the nation at the time and that have totally passed since then and left no lasting damage at all. The series will star Anson Mount as a former Confederate soldier hunting the men who killed his wife (early spoiler alert?) and who finds himself in a town called Hell on Wheels, which AMC is probably hoping you subconsciously confuse with Deadwood. No premiere date set yet.

Jersey Shore. Season 3. Personal question: Do you watch Jersey Shore? Why? Don't just give the old line about loving to watch reality show train wrecks, either.

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• The week of Christmas is, understandably, a pretty dead one in terms of TV programming. Elf is on USA (again) on Christmas Day, if you're up for another repeat viewing. For my money, though, your best bet is Friday night's Christmas Eve airing of It's a Wonderful Life on NBC. Dark, sweet, and totally heartbreaking. If you don't cry at the end, you might be dead inside.

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