Thursday TV: ‘Spoils of Babylon’

tobey-maguire-tim-robbins-spoils-of-babylonCrap miniseries of the 70s are hardly the most difficult target for satire.

Replaying “The Thorn Birds” or “The Winds of War” can provide their own unintentional laughs. They scarcely need to be exaggerated for further ridicule.

And yet that’s something comedians love to do. Patton Oswald has been doing it on a much lower scale on Adult Swim’s “The Heart, She Holler” and now comes Will Ferrell and pals taking what could have been an internet-only “Funny or Die” bit and stretching it out to a new series, “The Spoils of Babylon” (IFC, 10 p.m.).

Well, everybody seems to get a kick out of it, from Ferrell, as a drunken bestselling has been who introduces his supposedly self-financed saga, to the mini-seriess cast that includes big screen worthy cat from Tobey Maguire, Tim Robbins and Kristen Wiig to Carey Mulligan, who provides the voice for the mannequin Maguire’s character weds. Which is when things get a little surreal. The purposely phony miniatures serving as sets and car chases add to the oddball charm. It’s fun.

The absent and much thinner Chris Pratt returns from his unconvincing job in England in time for the 100th episode of “Parks & Recreation” (NBC, 8:30 p.m.) back from a long holiday break. Ann and Chris discover the gender of their baby. But it’s Leslie Knope’s last day in office.

A winner is named on the third season finale of “Project Runway All Stars” (Lifetime, 9 p.m.) in a showdown staged at the United Nations, with Gayle King, not exactly known as a fashionista, sitting in as guest judge as well as Zac Posen (who is). The finalists are Elena Slivnyak, Korto Momolu an Seth Aaron Henderson.

From above the border comes the latest cooking competition “Chopped Canada” (Food Network, 9 p.m.) with Dean McDermott returning home to host. How many different ways can you cook back bacon?

Last week’s second season premiere of “The Taste” (ABC, 8 p.m.) didn’t do all that well in the ratings, but it was fairly enjoyable. Now the four judges, including Anthony Bourdain and Nigella Lawson, start honing their teams.

Sarah might have a job on the line in “Parenthood” (NBC, 10 p.m.).

Somebody’s dropping coins down the pants of people on “Community” (NBC, 8 p.m.). But why?

The documentary “Sole Survivor” (CNN, 9 p.m.) looks into the effect of a plane crash where just one survived.

A Fourth of July party ends the first season of “Rodeo Girls” (A&E, 10 p.m.).

Two comedies involve TV newsmen: “The Michael J. Fox Show” (NBC, 9:30 p.m.) and “The Millers” (CBS, 8:30 p.m.). Though local newsmen are usually funny enough on their own.

The fifth and final season of “White Collar” (USA, 9 p.m.) continues for its final four episodes.

“Mysteries of the Museum” (Travel, 9 p.m.) looks into the original madame Marie Tussaud.

The month-long Thursday night salute to Joan Crawford on Turner Classic Movies continues with “Grand Hotel” (8 p.m.), “Rain” (10 p.m.), “Dancing Lady” (11:45 p.m.), “Forsaking All Others” (1:30 a.m.), “This Modern Age” (3 a.m.) and “Today We Live” (4:30 a.m.).

College hoops includes George Mason at Virginia Commonwealth (CBS Sports, 7 p.m.) and California at Oregon (Fox Sports 1, 11 p.m.).

NBA action includes Heat at Knicks (TNT, 8 p.m.) and Thunder at Nuggets (TNT, 10:30 p.m.).

Daytime Talk

Kelly & Michael: Joel McHale, Oscar Isaac. The View: Pamala Oslie, Chris Harrison. The Talk: Kellan Lutz, Sunny Anderson. Ellen DeGeneres: Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Wendy Williams: Wanda Sykes.

Late Talk

David Letterman: Anderson Cooper, Mindy Kaling, Will Hoge. Jay Leno: Leslie Mann, David Koechner, Vince Gill with Paul Franklin. Jimmy Kimmel: Kristen Wiig, Nick Kroll, Lord Huron. Jimmy Fallon: Wanda Sykes, F. Murray Abraham, Parquet Courts, Sharon Jones. Craig Ferguson: Patton Oswalt, Hannah New. Carson Daly: Doug Benson, No, Justine Marino. Tavis Smiley: Benjamin barber, Mary McDonnell. Jon Stewart: Scarlett Johansson. Stephen Colbert: Jeff Skoll. Arsenio Hall: Ken Jeong, Nancy Grace. Conan O’Brien: Mark Wahlberg, Kathryn Hahn, Chad Daniels. Chelsea Handler: Zosia Mamet, Heather McDonald, Julian McCullough, Gary Valentine.

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