HBO (Thurs., Aug. 21, 10:30 p.m. ET)
One of my favorite times on TV is Sunday night, when on my cable I get to see Japanese TV, Italian TV, Greek TV—none of it translated, all of it boggling, half of it hilarious. And I keep wishing that some network—PBS or HBO to nominate two—would give us a translated view of what the rest of the world watches. Both nets have tried. This summer PBS gave us International TV, a series dominated by haughty PBSque programming. Snooze. This month HBO tries to do better and give us, in the words of host George Plimpton, “the shows from overseas that people really watch.” There are moments to remember: an Italian game show in which women affix clothespins to men’s faces; a Japanese game show in which the loser is the first man who has to go to the toilet; a Polish show with a “wonder dog” that shoots pumpkins off a girl’s head with a dart gun, and an Israeli variety show with a chorus of dancing rabbinical students. The clips are too short—I’d rather see complete shows—and most times the words aren’t translated. But at least it’s a small start.