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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

no time for sergeants

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On Tonight: New 'Memphis Beat,' 'Two Escobars'

no time for sergeants
Jason Lee trades in his mustache for a pair of sideburns in the new police series "Memphis Beat" (TNT, 10 p.m.), one of several new shows starting this week.  And while the look is slightly altered, his voice and emphatic approach is much like the one he used in "My Name is Earl."
Except for the fact that he's an Elvis impersonator in his spare time (using what must certainly be a dubbed voice), his character is another one of those rules-breaking cops who naturally is at odds with the new by-the-books chief, played by Alfre Woodard, who has had several of these kinds of roles.
Lee's character lives with his mother, for a touch of "Burn Notice" and the police action so far is pretty standard. But using the music of Otis Redding, Booker T and Elvis dresses it up a lot. And it's the standout among a number of new broadcast dramas starting this week.
In the middle of World Cup fever comes a startling documentary this week comes from Wesleyan grad Michael Zimbalist and his brother Jeff Zimbalist, about a pair of Colombians from Medellin who were famous in the 90s "The Two Escobars" previously showed at the Tribeca Film Fest and Cannes and it premieres this week on two different platforms of the Bristol sports giant as part of the series "30 for 30" (ESPN, 9 p.m.).
It follows Andres Escobar, who suffered a worse fate than the British goalie Robert Green, who was criticized for letting a U.S. score in the World Cup opening round last week.
Escobar was playing against the U.S. as well in 1994 but broke the tie there by accidentally hitting a goal into the U.S. side. He was shot and killed.
It was all part of the atmosphere of violence created in part by drug lords like Pablo Escobar, whose millions helped fund the Colombian team and its rise from obscurity to world contender. He eventually was shot to death too. In a mesmerizing film that uses interviews with many former players and former henchmen telling their tale in prison, it's a cautionary tale for those who take their nationalism too far, or saddle their soccer teams with too much responsibility for the fortunes of an entire country.
Members of the U.S. World Cup talk about racial taunts they've heard (but not in East Hartford pre-Cup game, I hope) on the season premiere of "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel" (HBO, 10 p.m.).
And in the World Cup games themselves, with two games at once for the first time: Mexico vs. Uruguay (ESPN, Univision, 9:30 a.m.) and France vs. South Africa (ESPN2, 9:30 a.m.) as well as South Korea vs. Nigeria (ESPN, 2 p.m.) and Greece vs. Argentina (ESPN2, Univision, 2 p.m.).
This doesn't mean you don't have to get up at 7 a.m. for sports any more. There's always Wimbledon (ESPN2, 7 a.m.).
A terrific film opening the season for "P.O.V." (CPTV, 10 p.m.) is part history lesson and part personal valentine. "William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe" recalls the highlights of the radicalized lawyer's career, going back to the civil rights movement and Chicago 7 trial and continues to Attica State massacre and Wounded Knee. But it's also a look at the relationship the larger than life lawyer had with his daughters, who are the filmmakers here -- Emily Kunstler and Darah Kunstler.
There are drawbacks to this kind of filmmaking - subjects are somewhat reticent to say anything bad to the daughters of the deceased. But it brings more impact to the story as the sisters, who were appalled at some of the cases he took toward the end of his life, such as defending those arrested for attacking the Central Park jogger, adjust their views when, more than a decade later, whose same jailed suspects were freed on DNA evidence, seven years after their father left the planet.
A Democratic Gubernatorial Debate (WVIT, Channel 30, 7 p.m.) pits Ned Lamont vs. Dan Malloy.
The new prime time quiz show "Downfall" (ABC, 9 p.m.) is based on a premise so simple you can turn your brain completely off: A losing answer gets you thrown off a building. Perfect for those who have already switched off to the one-note bombast of "Wipeout" (ABC, 8 p.m.).
"HawthoRNe" (TNT, 9 p.m.), which seemed like a subpar hospital drama in its first season, has improved considerably by tonight's second season start. By now, Jada Pinkett Smith's drama has solidified its cast and added a neat twist: Its hospital has closed and they've had to move to an even worse one.  With "ER" gone and "Nurse Jackie" ended for the season, it looks more and more like the medical drama mainstay.
The one year anniversary of Michael Jackson's death is marked by another replay of "The Jacksons: An American Dream" (BET, 8 p.m.), but by "Michael Jackson & Bubbles: The Untold Story" (Animal Planet, 10 p.m.). Because it is Animal Planet.
The three night series "How the Earth Changed History" (National Geographic Channel, 9 p.m.) winds up.
It sounds like an oxymoron but the night's theme on Turner Classic Movies is military comedy, with Any Griffith in "No Time for Sergeants" (8 p.m.), Abbott and Costello in "Buck Privates" (10:15 p.m.), Robert Benchley in "See Here, Private Hargrove" (midnight), Jimmy Durante and Phil silvers in "You're in the Army Now" (2 a.m.) and Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis in "At War with the Army" (3:30 a.m.).
Baseball tonight includes Tigers at Mets (SNY, 7 p.m.), Twins at Brewers (MLB, 8 p.m.), Red Sox at Rockies (NESN, 8:30 p.m.) and Yankees at Diamondbacks (YES, 9:30 p.m.).
Daytime Talk
Regis and Kelly
: Salma Hayek Pinault, Padma Lakshmi, Lucy Liu. The View: Jeffrey Donovan, Thomas Roberts, D.L. Hughley. Ellen DeGeneres: Kirstie Alley, Matthew Morrison, Cyndi Lauper (rerun). Wendy Williams: Dolly Parton, Robert Buckley, Teresa Guidice.
Late Talk
David Letterman: Regis Philbin, Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue. Jay Leno: Queen Latifah, Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino, Robert Randolph. Jimmy Kimmel: Bradley Cooper, Khloe & Kourtney Kardashian, Taio Cruz (rerun). Jimmy Fallon: Salma Hayek, Jeffrey Donovan, Herbie Hancock. Craig Ferguson: Valerie Bertinelli, Jerry Ferrara. Carson Daly: David Guetta, the Hit Machine, Nathan Rabin, RJD2 (rerun). Jon Stewart: Cameron Diaz. Stephen Colbert: Gloria Steinem. George Lopez: Helen Mirren, Ryan Kwanten, Cedric the Entertainer. Chelsea Handler: Mary McCormack, Joe DeRosa, Heather McDonald, Josh Wolf. 

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