Drew Carey is first out of the gate in this second full week of the May sweeps in the title role of “Geppetto” on ABC’s “Wonderful World of Disney” (7 p.m. EDT/PDT, today). The classic family-friendly tale, best known from the 1940 animated classic “Pinocchio,” gets a live-action makeover, being retold from the point of view of the puppet turned real boy’s “single father.” This musical production includes Julia Louis-Dreyfus (“Seinfeld”) as the Blue Fairy and original songs from Stephen Schwartz.
And if that hasn’t hooked you yet, try passing this up: Drew Carey sings!
In other tube highlights:
Jason London — Sandwiched between last week’s better-hyped “Arabian Nights” and next week’s sure ratings-powerhouse “Jesus” comes this week’s “Jason and the Argonauts” (9 p.m. EDT/PDT, today and Monday, NBC), based on the ancient Greek action hero. If this miniseries reminds you of another recent NBC mini, “The Odyssey,” it should. “Jason” is yet another big-time production from sweeps guru Robert Haimi Sr. When you crank out as many epics as this guy does, the law of averages says, “Sometimes you hit, sometimes you miss.” Well, after “Nights,” Halmi seems to be on an epic roll (ugh, sorry about that), as “Jason,” once again, delivers. This story has always been a crowd-pleaser as the young Prince Jason (played by Jason London) gathers a group of heroes (including Hercules in perhaps the big guy’s first-ever major guest appearance) and goes off adventurin’ on his ship, Argo. Expect neato special effects, big scary monsters, islands inhabited exclusively by hot babes and plenty of heroic ass kickings all around.
Wendie Malick — After a return to the Top Ten (with a little help from a special airing after “Friends”), NBC’s sometimes-good, sometimes-just-OK sitcom “Just Shoot Me” (9:30 p.m. EDT/PDT, Tuesday) offers up something terrific. The hazy details of the life of former supermodel/party queen Nina (Wendie Malick), who is often the best part of this show anyway, gets the spotlight in this spoof of A&E’s “Biography.” Guest star Harry Smith helps document how the ditzy beauty Forrest Gumped her way through major events of the past several decades, including how she broke up the Eagles and caused the downfall of Studio 54. Clever guest appearances by Jerry Hall, Sydney Pollack and more add to authentic documentary feel of this great half-hour of TV.
— Long-brewing romances are the order of the night Thursday as NBC offers special hourlong episodes of both “Friends” (8 p.m. EDT/PDT) and “Frasier” (9 p.m. EDT/PDT). “Friends” will continue to tease Chandler’s impending proposal to Monica (revealed at the end of last week’s show). And over on “Frasier,” as Daphne’s wedding day approaches, the pressure on Niles to “speak now or forever hold his peace” builds.
— And finally, amid all the money being spent on special effects, Fox musters up Battle of the Child Geniuses: Who Is the Smartest Kid in America (8 p.m. EDT/PDT, Tuesday) and “Powers of the Paranormal — Live on Stage” (8 p.m. EDT/PDT, Thursday).
Hosted by Dick Clark, “Child Geniuses” features gifted children competing in what is ominously billed as “the most intense game show ever devised.” Fox can be frightening sometimes (and we aren’t talking about “The X-Files”), but this show pretty much takes the cake. Is this battle of child geniuses to the death or what?
On the lighter, goofy side of “scary,” “Powers of the Paranormal” serves up two hours of gratifyingly cheesy infomercial-quality programming — the sort of stuff we’ve come to expect from Fox. This special promises “X-ray psychic vision … channeling … past-life regression” and more, performed “live” on stage. The producers also suggest that you could even have a paranormal event in your own home while watching! We say … really? Cool!