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Disney’s ‘Suite Life’ leaves sour taste

Kevin McDonough United Feature Syndicate

What do you get when you take “Eloise at the Plaza,” move it to Boston and turn Eloise into a boy – twin boys, at that?

You get “The Suite Life of Zack & Cody” (7 p.m., Disney), a show twice as obnoxious as the dreadful TV-movie adaptations of Kay Thompson’s beloved illustrated storybooks.

Loud, contrived, predictably plotted and brightly lit, “Suite” is a throbbing headache of a comedy embodying everything I find loathsome in children’s programming.

Zack and Cody (Cole and Dylan Sprouse) live in a suite because their perky mother, Cary (Kim Rhodes), has been hired to perform at the hotel’s nightclub. Yes, she’s a showbiz mom given to singing with “jazz hands” in front of her bathroom mirror.

But wait, it gets worse. She’s also a single mother, eager for her boys to make friends, so they invite their posse of new school chums to take advantage of the hotel’s room service, Jacuzzi, pool, etc. If you find humor in the idea of 12-year-olds abusing a wait staff with the imperious attitude of minimoguls, then “Suite” is for you.

How bad does the show get? In episode one, Zack and Cody learn a valuable lesson about true friendship, and one of their new, true friends teaches their mom to break-dance. At least she doesn’t learn to “rap.”

In the second episode, a troupe of pre-teen beauty pageant contestants decamps in the lobby and Zack (or is it Cody?) dresses in drag to get closer to the bevy of beauties. The word “creepy” doesn’t begin to describe this “Bosom Buddies” moment, but for the time being it will have to do.

The forced perkiness continues on “Get Color” (8 p.m., HGTV). This how-to show is supposed to teach us about using color to make our rooms and our lives zippier.

Given the rich vocabulary of the spectrum, most of us are stuck in a beige rut. We tread uneasily, as if on eggshells, through an off-white cul-de-sac of monochromatic mediocrity.

Unfortunately, “Colors” is hosted by Jane Lockhart. She might know color, but her vocabulary is limited to a few oft-repeated and annoying expressions.

Her first subjects are a perfectly sensible couple who like to entertain. They have a handsome living room with drab, beige walls.

Jane gets it into her head that she has to turn the place into “party central.” Who, outside of a frat house, uses the phrase “party central”? Jane does, at least three times in a 22-minute show.

She also uses the word “fabulous,” which should be stricken from the lips of anyone in the decorating business.

By the end of “Color” I was wishing I had a stun gun to zap Jane into acting her age. But I reached instead for my remote and put her out of my life forever.

Other highlights

The NCAA Basketball Tournament (9 a.m. and 4 p.m., CBS) continues.

“What Not to Wear” (8 p.m., TLC) looks for the “Worst Dressed Couple in America” in a two-hour special.

Freddie Prinze Jr. and Sarah Michelle Gellar star in the 2002 adaptation of the cartoon staple “Scooby-Doo” (8:30 p.m., Nickelodeon).

Latin American calamities on part one of the season finale of “Medical Investigation” (9 p.m., NBC).

Three likely suspects emerge in a woman’s murder on “Law & Order: Trial By Jury” (10 p.m., NBC).

Scheduled on “20/20” (10 p.m., ABC): real life “Desperate Housewives,” angry husbands and suburban “swingers.”

Cult choice

Juliette Binoche, Lena Olin, Johnny Depp and Judi Dench star in the 2000 art-house confection “Chocolat” (8 p.m., A&E), a film considered eye-candy for Depp’s legion of fans and a Francophile “Footloose” for the rest of us.

Series notes

On back-to-back episodes of “Bernie Mac” (Fox), Bernie needs an assistant (8 p.m.), and vacation mayhem (8:30 p.m.,) … On back-to-back episodes of “8 Simple Rules” (ABC), the girls question Kate’s new hairstyle (8 p.m.) and her new job (8:30 p.m.) … Still battling Nazis on “Star Trek: Enterprise” (8 p.m., UPN) … On back-to-back episodes of “What I Like About You” (WB), Jenny McCarthy (8 p.m.), and Holly feels neglected (8:30 p.m.).

On back-to-back episodes of “That ‘70s Show” (Fox), Eric lashes out (9 p.m.), and of Styx and the stoned (9:30 p.m.) … Nepotism on “Hope & Faith” (9 p.m., ABC) … Tyra Banks hosts “America’s Next Top Model” (9 p.m., UPN) … Van’s domestic arrangement on “Reba” (9 p.m., WB).

Lucy Lawless guest-stars on “Less Than Perfect” (9:30 p.m., ABC) … The Big Easy on “Blue Collar TV” (9:30 p.m., WB).

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