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'The T.O. Show'

TELEVISION REVIEW

This VH1 show follows the exploits of football god Terrell Owens. Where's a penalty flag when you need one?

July 20, 2009|MARY McNAMARA | TELEVISION CRITIC

Terrell Owens is one beautiful man and he knows it, oh, Lord, he knows it, and so do his publicists, Kita Williams and Monique Jackson, the forces behind "The T.O. Show," which premieres tonight on VH1. Why else would the publicity art include a nude portrait of the football star, why else would Owens spend at least 60% of his time in front of the camera shirtless?

Good thing too, because the sculpted pecs, mighty shoulders and perfect abs are just about the only thing the show has going for it. No, wait, I take that back; he has a lovely smile as well.

For years, Williams and Jackson had been pitching the idea of a reality show that would give the world a glimpse of Terrell Owens "the man" as opposed to T.O. "the self-aggrandizing, fine-magnet of a star receiver who was recently bounced from the Dallas Cowboys."

In a way, that unexpected (by Owens) occurrence provides a handy opener for the show.

Caught between jobs (he almost immediately signs with the less glamorous Buffalo Bills), Owens agrees to move to Los Angeles for the off-season, where Jackson and Williams rather inexplicably reassure him that he can regroup and focus.

Although a portion of a subsequent episode promises better things -- Owens goes home to Alabama, where he has some genuinely touching encounters with the grandmother who raised him, now stricken with Alzheimer's, as well as the father who essentially ignored him -- the pilot sells the series as a sort of publicist boot camp.

Jackson and Williams figure heavily, assuring us at every turn that they are not just Owens' employees but also his family (when will the people who surround celebrities realize how sad such statements are?). This seems to involve their acting as a sort of shrill Greek chorus every time the man makes a move.

Los Angeles is not a city famous for its redemptive qualities and Owens takes full advantage: He hits on the Realtor giving him a tour of his new house (in a skirt so tight her thong is visible), visits Rodeo and drops more than a hundred grand on a new pair of diamond earrings for himself and goes to a club where he winds up inviting most of the women home to party.

All of this allows Williams and Jackson to spend most of their time nagging in the we-only-want-what's-best-for-you way that has proven so very effective for women over the centuries.

Mercifully, some of this nagging takes place while Owens is finishing a workout in his pool, and most televisions come equipped with a mute button nowadays.

The only real "plan" is to reunite Owens with his ex-fiancee, who, wisely enough, kicked him to the curb when he cheated on her. Watching him sheepishly make a vague pitch for one more chance while she shakes her head and chews her lip is enough to make viewers grateful for their own camera-crew-free existence. And eager for football season to start.

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mary.mcnamara@latimes.com

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'The T.O. Show'

Where: VH1

When: 10 tonight

Rating: TV-PG (may be unsuitable for young children)

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