Review

What to Watch

A day-to-day guide to notable programs.* *TIMES ARE EASTERN DAYLIGHT AND ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE.

MONDAY JULY 21

8-8:30 PM YES, DEAR (CBS, TV-PG-L) Fox Television Group chairman Sandy Grushow cameos tonight as himself, no doubt delighting his friends and family. (R)

8-9PM FEAR FACTOR (NBC, TV-PG) Six contestants from the Miss USA pageant are forced to undertake dangerous and humiliating stunts. Something tells me Miss USA contestants are no strangers to humiliation. (R)

9-11PM DEFENDING OUR KIDS: THE JULIE POSEY STORY (Lifetime, TV-PG) Designing Women's Annie Potts wages a one-woman war on online sexual predators. If this actually were an episode of Designing Women, the predators would all receive stern lectures from Dixie Carter while a flatteringly lit Delta Burke looked on.

9-11:30PM AUTOMATIC KALASHNIKOV (Sundance, TV-14-LV) A documentary history of the AK-47. It's sort of like fetish porn for Chuck Heston.

9-11PM VH1's 200 GREATEST POP ICONS (VH1) Ah, VH1: Television to Watch While Doing Something Else. Based on the first hour, this five-night special hews closely to the VH1 formula: clips and tidbits, interspersed with commentary from a random assortment of stars. (If you ever wanted to know, say, Henry Winkler's thoughts on Dolly Parton, look no further.) The network's definition of icon, however, may be a tad overbroad; it's more than a little unnerving that Sigmund Freud and JFK are on the same list as such pop-culture ephemera as The Rock and South Park's Cartman (right). B

TUESDAY JULY 22

7-8:30PM NICO, THE UNICORN (HBO Family, TV-PG) Ever since I read the title of this movie, I haven't been able to get the image of a drug-addled unicorn singing ''Femme Fatale'' out of my head. It's not pretty, people.

8-9PM GILMORE GIRLS (The WB) Lane wants to go to the prom, Lorelai wants Luke to take her fishing, and Paris wants to impeach Rory. Man, these people are needy. (R)

8-9PM AMERICAN JUNIORS (Fox, TV-G) Sing out, Louise! Sing out!

9-9:30PM GOOD CLEAN PORN (Trio, TV-MA-DLS) Part of a weeklong series of programs selected by former EW columnist Joel Stein, this show features porn films, minus the sex. Which will still probably make more sense than that edited-for-television version of Glengarry Glen Ross.

SERIES DEBUT 9-10PM MI-5 (A&E, TV-14) A slick British cousin of Alias and 24, the cable net's latest import utilizes split-screen visuals as it tracks the spies of England's national security agency. Like Jennifer Garner's Sydney Bristow, MI-5's hero, Tom Quinn (Matthew Macfayden, left), strains to balance a double life; his girlfriend thinks he's merely a government computer techie. As his balding bulldog of a boss, Peter Firth bears almost no resemblance to the horse-obsessed teenager he played in his Oscar-nominated 1977 Equus role, but he's equally fine. The pilot guest-stars Lisa Eichhorn (Yanks) as a right-to-life bomber -- and that's not its only explosive twist. B+ -- Bruce Fretts

WEDNESDAY JULY 23

SEASON FINALE 8-9PM FAME (NBC, TV-PG) I keep watching this in the hopes that Debbie Allen will be arrested and hauled before a war-crimes tribunal for choreographing a tap dance to the score from Saving Private Ryan at 1999's Academy Awards. Haul JoJo in too, while you're at it.

SERIES DEBUT 10:30-11PM RENO 911! (Comedy Central, TV-14) Comedy Central's new COPS spoof has police officers battling a mannequin fondler.

10-11PM GUILTY PLEASURE: THE EXTRAORDINARY WORLD OF DOMINICK DUNNE (Court TV, TV-14) A documentary look at America's favorite libel defendant.

8-9PM* THE FBI (PBS, TV-PG) We already know about J. Edgar Hoover's clandestine investigations of Martin Luther King Jr. and John Lennon, but who'd have thought the FBI also had a director, Louis Freeh, so averse to computers that the bureau used outdated terminals for much of the '90s? That's one of the frank confessions (alongside sober accounts of 9/11 and the Waco siege) in National Geographic's engrossing investigation -- a work that commendably employs candid access without winding up a shameless infomercial. Truly arresting. A- -- Joshua Rich *check local listings

THURSDAY JULY 24

8-8:30PM FRIENDS (NBC, TV-14) Go, Rachel, it's your birthday. Go, Rachel, it's your birthday. In other news, Joey's got a serious case of nanny fever. (R)

8-10PM ROAD TRIP (ABC, TV-14-DLS) Hey, remember that hilarious scene where the nurse jabs Seann William Scott's prostate? Yeah, that's not going to be on ABC.

8-10:45PM THE MUMMY (TBS, TV-14-LV) Oh, good. The Mummy. That's never on TBS.

9-10PM CSI: CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATION (CBS, TV-14) The CSI crew investigates a stabbing at an art-house theater. Maybe the victim provoked it by repeatedly asking during The Seventh Seal when the goddamn seals were going to show up. (R)

10:45PM-1:15AM THE MUMMY (TBS, TV-14-LV) Oh, good. The Mummy. That's never on TBS.

8-9PM JOAN COLLINS' LONDON (Travel Channel, TV-G) Tim Carvell may have hijacked my column this week, but there are a few things I keep off limits, namely my instructional break-dancing posters, Xena bobblehead doll, and anything dealing with one Alexis Morrell Carrington Colby Dexter Rowan, even if it's just her showing off her birthplace and sharing ''some of her most confidential beauty secrets.'' She's mine. All mine. -- Dalton Ross

FRIDAY JULY 25

8-9PM THE TEAMMATES (ESPN) A splendid companion piece to David Halberstam's best-selling gem, The Teammates chronicles the lifelong bond between four veterans of the 1940s Boston Red Sox: Ted Williams, Johnny Pesky, Bobby Doerr, and Dominic DiMaggio (Joe's often overlooked brother). Like the book, the sports net's documentary proves a moving meditation on friendship, aging, and the Great American Pastime. Even dedicated BoSox haters may get a bit misty. A -- BF

7-8PM INSIDE THE ACTORS STUDIO (Bravo, TV-PG-D) ''And now, Jeff Bridges, we come to Starman. Tell us: How does one play a star man?''

8-8:30PM BERNIE MAC (Fox, TV-PG-LS) The title of this episode is ''The Other Sister,'' but I think that a Juliette Lewis cameo is probably too much to hope for. (R)

8-10:30PM G.I. JANE (TNT, TV-14-DLV) I happen to have Demi Moore's haircut from this movie. In Demi's case, it bespeaks her decision to forgo vanity in the name of serving her country; in mine, it bespeaks the fact that my barber speaks English as a second language.

8-9PM AMERICA'S FUNNIEST HOME VIDEOS (ABC, TV-PG) My editor won't let me make a Capturing the Friedmans joke here, so I won't. I'll just point out that I had a good one ready to go. (R)

8:15-10PM SHOWTIME (Cinemax, TV-PG-13) It would seem to me that if there's one movie that should be playing on Showtime, this would be it, no?

8PM-MIDNIGHT APOCALYPSE NOW REDUX (Bravo, TV-MA) ''The horror, the horror,'' whispers Marlon Brando. But is it because he's facing death or assessing both his and Francis Ford Coppola's late-'90s output? Who can say?

9-10PM BOSTON PUBLIC (Fox, TV-14-DLS) American Idol's Tamyra Gray guests as the star of the school's musical. On a related note, I think more high schools should do musical productions of Dancer in the Dark, because I'd bet a 16-year-old could really put a lot of feeling into those Bjork songs. (R)

9-10PM JAG (CBS, TV-PG) A submarine crew loses one of its nuclear torpedoes, and while my mom would probably just say the St. Anthony prayer a few times and hope that it shows up, apparently the Navy doesn't work that way. (R)

9PM-11PM ORIGINAL SIN (The Movie Channel, TV-R) Cornell Woolrich wrote some of the greatest noir novels of all time, which went on to become some of the worst movies of all time. Exhibit A: I Married a Dead Man, which became the Ricki Lake film Mrs. Winterbourne. Exhibit B: Waltz Into Darkness, which became...this.

12:15-1:45AM PLAY-MATE OF THE APES (Cinemax, TV-MA) Best. Title. Ever.

SATURDAY JULY 26

SERIES DEBUT 3-4PM SECOND OPINION WITH DOCTOR OZ (Discovery, TV-G) Dr. Mehmet Oz offers medical advice. Am I the only one who thinks it would be funny if Dr. Oz squinted at the camera and announced, ''My God! We must operate immediately!''? Yes, I probably am.

4:30-5:30PM THE BEST WESTERN $10 MILLION CHALLENGE (Fox) Ten people try to complete sports challenges in order to win $1 million. I think if you don't complete the challenge, the producers should take your home and all your money and your children. Then people would be serious about sinking that free throw.

8-10PM CORRINA, CORRINA (BLACK STARZ!, TV-PG) No, no.

10PM-MIDNIGHT THE OTHERS (Showtime Too, TV-PG-13) They're all dead. (Sorry.)

8-9:45PM UNDEFEATED (HBO, TV-MA) John Leguizamo assembles an impressive cast for his directorial debut, but the screenplay seems to have been dusted off from a 1930s B movie: A kid from the streets becomes a boxing champ, only to lose touch with his roots and discover that -- no! yes! -- the world of boxing isn't as honorable as one might expect. Leguizamo caps the whole mess with an ambiguous, elliptical ending -- think Limbo or The Color of Money -- that the movie doesn't come close to earning. The lone reason to watch is for a fine, twitchy performance from Clifton Collins Jr. (above left with Leguizamo). C-

SUNDAY JULY 27

7-9PM THE PENNSYLVANIA MINERS' STORY (ABC, TV-PG-L) If I ever wind up trapped in a mine, I think the main thing I'm going to do with my time is try to figure out who'll play me in the inevitable TV movie based on the incident. And pray that it's not John Ratzenberger. (R)

SERIES DEBUT 8-9PM PERFECT MATCH: NEW YORK (ABC Family) A relationship expert, a friend, and a relative team up to choose three ''perfect matches'' for an eligible single. Then the single lives in an apartment with each of them, one at a time. Because, of course, the best circumstance under which to meet a stranger is to share a New York City apartment. That's a recipe for romance. Or murder. One or the other.

SEASON FINALE 8-9PM FAKING IT (BBC America, TV-PG) The show takes a 22-year-old cellist and turns her into a club DJ. Oh, sure, it's all fun and games until somebody sinks into a K-hole.

8:30-10PM AMY'S ORGASM (The Movie Channel, TV-R) Lucky Amy.

9-11PM SINGING IN THE SHADOW: THE CHILDREN OF ROCK ROYALTY (Bravo, TV-PG) The offspring of Carly Simon, Phil Collins, John Lennon, David Crosby, Arlo Guthrie, and Aretha Franklin discuss the benefits and drawbacks of their parents' famous names.

9-9:30PM SEX AND THE CITY (HBO, TV-MA) Carrie must decide whether to pursue her relationship with Berger, while Kim Cattrall devises yet another way to become topless.

9-11:05PM JUDE (Sundance, TV-R) Not, as the title might lead you to hope, a biopic of Jude Law, but rather a film adaptation of Thomas Hardy's Jude the Obscure. Can't imagine why they omitted those last two words from the movie title.

9-10PM THE TRUE STORY OF SEABISCUIT (A&E, TV-G) William H. Macy hosts this documentary about the horse that rallied a nation during the Great Depression and bravely said ''Nay'' to Sen. Joseph McCarthy during the Communist witch-hunts, although I may be wrong about that second part.

9-10PM LAW & ORDER: CRIMINAL INTENT (NBC, TV-14) I think what I like best about this show is the way that you can watch Vincent D'Onofrio thinking. And what he usually seems to be thinking is ''How can I telegraph to the audience more clearly how hard I am thinking right now? Perhaps I should squint and furrow my brow a little more. Yes, yes, squinting and furrowing. That will do it.'' (R)

10-11:35PM BILLY'S HOLLYWOOD SCREEN KISS (The Movie Channel, TV-R) Billy's lucky, but not quite as lucky as Amy.

10:30-11PM PROJECT GREENLIGHT (HBO, TV-MA) Or, as I prefer to think of it, The Continuing Adventures of Shouty McShout Shout. This week: Shouty (a.k.a. Chris Moore) gets angry.

SERIES DEBUT 9-10PM TYING THE KNOT: THE WEDDING OF MELISSA JOAN HART (ABC Family, TV-G) This bland six-part reality series makes a big leap of faith: that viewers actually care about the wedding-planning process of Sabrina the Teenage Witch star Melissa Joan Hart, from when she met musician Mark Wilkerson at the Kentucky Derby to their honeymoon and beyond. For romance junkies or the wedding obsessed, there's not much to enjoy: no insights as to why she fell for Wilkerson, no useful wedding tips, and most importantly, no excitingly candid moments. Instead, we're forced to tag along to Hart's Alabama engagement party and Italian location scouting with a gabby wedding planner. Perhaps exec producer Hart was overzealous with the edit button to avoid coming across as Bridezilla. As a result, the show is about as much fun as dancing the electric slide with your cousin.

Originally posted Jul 25, 2003 Published in issue #720 Jul 25, 2003 Order article reprints
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