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Underrated/Overrated

'Wonders of the Universe' with Brian Cox'; Brendan Gleeson; American British accents; 'My Strange Addiction'

August 14, 2011

UNDERRATED

"Wonders of the Universe" with Brian Cox: Unlike other topic-specific networks like MTV and History Channel, the Science Channel is building a roster of quality shows true to its name. Examining the cosmos in a manner akin to the network's "Through the Wormhole," this engrossing documentary series gains a boost in the stylish Cox, a U.K. physicist who can break down the universe's vastness and inevitable demise with a genial serenity that borders on perverse.

Brendan Gleeson: An Irish character actor who has stolen scenes in "28 Days Later," "In Bruges" and "Lake Placid," Gleeson stands out as the title character in John Michael McDonagh's "The Guard." Possessed with an eccentric (and offensive) charm, Gleeson's Irish patrolman holds his own against straight-laced FBI agent Don Cheadle and a host of menacing hoods, never sacrificing his character's humanity in the name of comedy.

OVERRATED

American British accents: There's a short list of U.S. actors who can pull off a believable British accent, and even in the span of a two-minute trailer for the upcoming "One Day," Anne Hathaway sadly isn't on it. It's not her fault the studio didn't trust a real-live English actress to open this movie (Emily Blunt maybe? Or whatever happened to Keira Knightley?), but those responsible need to watch 24 hours of Kevin Costner's "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves" as penance.

'My Strange Addiction': Given the success of "Intervention" and "Hoarders," there's plenty of sources for network profit when it comes to watching people wrestle with compulsions. But this show on TLC — which, it bears remembering, once stood for the Learning Channel — takes the trend to new depths by focusing on people who, for example, eat dryer sheets or bathe in bleach. If this show takes off, can the American viewing public get cast as well?

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