Rob Corddry is a winning loser on his new sitcom
1. Rob Corddry is a real winner of a loser in The Winner
(Fox, Sundays, 8:30 and 9:30 p.m.)
As a grown man living happily with his parents, the former Daily Show correspondent has the acting chops to pull off an odd mixture of naïveté, slacker quietude, and yelping horniness for his childhood sweetheart, who's now the single mom next door. An arrested-development Wonder Years, The Winner is silly-funny, witty-funny, and actually builds to a point: In his voiceover narration, Corddry reminds you each week that his loser of a character will eventually be a wealthy success. Credit creator Ricky Blitt and executive producer Seth McFarlane (yes, auteur of my bête noire, Family Guy) with devising a devilishly clever, traditional (but not really) sitcom.
2. Orson Welles explained by Sanford Schwartz in The New York Review of Books
(March 15 issue, now on sale)
Schwartz, one of the greatest contemporary art critics, is also a superb book and film critic. In this essay, ostensibly reviewing a round-up of Orson Welles biographies, Schwartz writes an entrancing extended meditation on a certain kind of artist: ''Uninterested in the transforming power of love or the answers of religion, unconcerned with acts of courage or altruism, and, on the other hand, never merely cynical, [Welles] sends nearly every one of his protagonists off to his end in a state of loss, bafflement, or rage.'' In measuring the achievement of movies such as Citizen Kane and Touch of Evil, Schwartz's own writing achieves vigilant bliss.
3. The best reality show about the fashion world that's not Project Runway: The Agency
(VH-1, Tuesdays, 10 p.m.)
How can you not love a show set in a modeling agency that focuses on the bookers' concerns: whether the skinny ninnies they employ will show up on time; whether their business clients will see in the models what the bookers do. The show is inadvertently the best lesson young viewers will get about the perils of not eating enough (one poor scrawny fellow seems painfully unaware that he's risking not merely future jobs but his life). And the series has a true star in Becky, the foul-mouthed Brit booker who really lets her opinions rip.
4. Motherhood as adventure in Deborah Garrison's The Second Child
Garrison's clear-eyed, tartly witty, crisply metered poems are frequently about being a mother, a wife, and a writer, without a whit of sentimentality but with a lot of well-considered love. Read ''Sestina for the Working Mother'' immediately; and enjoy these lines from ''Above the Roar,'' as Garrison writes of one of her children:
''... when I looked into your eyes
and heard your mind clearly
and answered silently yes,
I love you, I adore you
(and it was loud, my ears were roaring)...''
5. Anna Nicole Smith's greatest performance
It was in Bryan Ferry's 1992 music video for his gorgeous cover of the Shirelles' classic girl-group hit ''Will You Love Me Tomorrow.'' She portrays his lover, and contemplates leaving him. Now, when Ferry croons the great couplet, ''I'd like to know if your love / Is love I can be sure of,'' it seems he's speaking the epitaph to the needy, insecure Smith's life. See it here.