Television: Song-and-Dunce Act

Avoiding biopic cliches, Martin and Lewis shows how sex plus deceptively dumb jokes equaled magic

The problem with many Hollywood biopics is that they assume the audience cares about celebrities as people. They wallow in sad childhoods, sadder marriages--blah, blah, boring, boring--forgetting that we love stars for their artfully fabricated personas. We like our celebrities to be celebrities, thank you very much. If they wanted to be real people, they should have gone into retail.

So it's a relief that CBS's Martin and Lewis (Nov. 24, 9 p.m. E.T.) is mainly about the show-biz duo--singer Dean Martin and hey-lady-comic Jerry Lewis--as a show-biz duo. It starts where their public lives do, in a crisply directed sequence...

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