'Frankie,' or I was a teenage android

Posted 9/11/17

By Kevin McDonough Nickelodeon premieres "I Am Frankie" (7:30 p.m., TV-G), featuring a story both well-worn and timely. Frankie Gaines (Alex Hook) may look like your average teen, but she's really an …

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'Frankie,' or I was a teenage android


By Kevin McDonough

Nickelodeon premieres "I Am Frankie" (7:30 p.m., TV-G), featuring a story both well-worn and timely. Frankie Gaines (Alex Hook) may look like your average teen, but she's really an android, equipped with a super brain and extraordinary strength.

She's on the run from the tech company that developed her for evil purposes and wants to blend in with the other kids in her adopted home. Naturally, her ultra-logical mind puts her at odds with the other high school students.

The notion of a brainy type having to adjust to the merely normal has been explored on "The Big Bang Theory" and will get a new workout on that show's spin-off prequel, "Young Sheldon."

The story of androids seeking human acceptance has also propelled the AMC series "Humans." Robots and artificial intelligence may seem totally contemporary, but they were the inspiration for "My Living Doll," a decidedly weird 1964 sitcom starring Julie Newmar as a stunning and hyper-logical machine being hidden from her creators by a nervous NASA scientist played by Bob Cummings. The "Living Doll" title was more than a little deceptive. The notion of a gorgeous woman too brilliant to endure silly men was off-putting to audiences at a time when shows like "Bewitched" and "I Dream of Jeannie" flourished.

While "Frankie" sports a "you go girl" spirit, it harbors a dark underside. Evil corporate-tech types want our heroine deprogrammed and destroyed. As such, it hearkens back to the Pinocchio-like boy figure in "A.I. Artificial Intelligence," the 2001 science-fiction film begun by Stanley Kubrick and completed by Steven Spielberg. That film was based on the 1969 short story "Supertoys Last All Summer Long" by Brian Aldiss. People, it seems, have been thinking about this subject for some time.

• Sundance continues its three-night, six-hour presentation of the limited series "Top of the Lake: China Girl" (9 p.m., TV-MA). This occasionally grim procedural bristles with many of the themes that director Jane Campion has explored in her films, most notably the vast spiritual and emotional gulf between men and women, particularly in a "post-feminist" age of widespread pornography and exploitation.

"Top" features three actresses in strong roles who have appeared in the most talked about television series of the year: Elisabeth Moss ("The Handmaid's Tale"), Gwendoline Christie ("Game of Thrones") and Nicole Kidman ("Big Little Lies").

• Another Australian production, "Newton's Law," begins streaming on Acorn. Claudia Karvan ("Jack Irish") stars in this over-the-top romantic comedy as a once high-powered lawyer who chucks it all to pursue a more idealistic practice with a decidedly down-market clientele.

• For those keeping score, it was a rough summer for Shakespeare. TNT canceled "Will" after one little-watched season. The same fate befell ABC's "Romeo and Juliet" reboot, "Still Star-Crossed."


• Couples must decide whether to stay together on "Bachelor in Paradise" (8 p.m., ABC, TV-14).

• Pirate treasure in paradise on "Hooten & the Lady" (9 p.m., CW, TV-14).


• The top six show their stuff on "So You Think You Can Dance" (8 p.m., Fox, TV-PG).

• Stranded on a desert isle on "Scorpion" (10 p.m., CBS, r, TV-14).

• A pilgrim opens the door for the devil on "Midnight, Texas" (10 p.m., NBC, TV-14).

• The "POV" (10 p.m., PBS, TV-PG, check local listings) documentary "My Love, Don't Cross That River" profiles an elderly couple, married for 76 years, who face ultimate questions of life and death.


A shipwrecked family seeks shelter and fights pirates in the popular 1960 Disney adventure "Swiss Family Robinson" (8 p.m., TCM), starring John Mills, Dorothy McGuire, James MacArthur, Tommy Kirk, Janet Munro and Sessue Hayakawa.


A new roof for Raj on "The Big Bang Theory" (8 p.m., CBS, r, TV-PG) * Las Vegas finals on "American Ninja Warrior" (8 p.m., NBC, TV-PG) * Alex is kidnapped on "Supergirl" (8 p.m., CW, r, TV-14) * Unretired and undercover on "Kevin Can Wait" (8:30 p.m., CBS, r, TV-PG) * Secrets from beyond the grave on "Mom" (9 p.m., CBS, r, TV-14) * Parenting at 30,000 feet on "Life in Pieces" (9:30 p.m., CBS, r, TV-PG) * Taye Diggs plays "To Tell the Truth" (10 p.m., ABC, TV-PG).


Idris Elba is booked on "The Daily Show With Trevor Noah" (11 p.m., Comedy Central) * Jimmy Fallon welcomes Seth Meyers, Russell Westbrook and Prophets of Rage on "The Tonight Show" (11:35 p.m., NBC) * Danny McBride, Jill Kargman and Elaine Bradley visit "Late Night With Seth Meyers" (12:35 a.m., NBC) * Christian Slater, Adrianne Palicki and Circus 1903 appear on "The Late Late Show With James Corden" (12:35 a.m., CBS).

© 2017 United Feature Syndicate