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7:30 (2) Basic Black: Second Chances: Life After Incarceration. A profile of an ex-con struggling to go straight. (Until 8 p.m.)

8:00 (2) History Detectives. The crew go to Maryland to authenticate a portrait of George Washington, then visit the house of notorious slave trader Patty Cannon. (Until 9 p.m.)

9:00 (2) Wide Angle. Tonight’s show looks at the battle between a Pakistani rock band and the local fundamentalist mullahs. (Until 10 p.m.)

9:00 (44) Mystery: The Mrs. Bradley Mysteries: Death at the Opera. Repeated from last week. Bradley (the ever-mysterious Diana Rigg herself) investigates another victim of a student production of The Mikado. To be repeated tonight at 1 a.m. on Channel 2. (Until 10 p.m.)

1:00 a.m. (2) Mystery: The Mrs. Bradley Mysteries: Death at the Opera. Repeated from this evening at 9 p.m.

2:00 a.m. (44) Soundstage. Featuring music from Alison Krauss and Union Station. To be repeated on Saturday at midnight. (Until 3 and 6 a.m.)


8:00 (2) Now with Bill Moyers. Bill explores the the FDA’s stranglehold the tuna industry, and the resultant minimizing of the dangers of mercury poisoning to consumers. (Until 9 p.m.)


1:00 (64) Baseball. The New York Mets versus the Atlanta Braves.

8:00 (2) Mark Twain, parts one and two. Ken Burns’s slow but informative four-hour bio of the all-American wag who celebrated our nation with ahead-of-its-time realism and common sense. To be repeated tonight at 1 a.m. (Until midnight and 5 a.m.)

8:00 (6) Krippendorf’s Tribe (movie). The comedic charms of Jenna Elfman might — we said might — have offset the dreadful and ponderous presence of Richard Dreyfuss in this 1998 comedy about an anthropologist who uses his family to impersonate a primitive tribe when he blows his research-grant money. But that was the only hope for this. Could have been funny. Isn’t. (Until 10 p.m.)

9:00 (10) Bowfinger (movie). A 1999 show-biz slam from Steve Martin, who plays a filmmaker who can’t land his super-star of choice (Eddie Murphy) and winds up shooting him on the sly and hiring his twin brother (Eddie Murphy) as his stunt double. (Until 11 p.m.)

Midnight and 5:00 a.m. (2) Austin City Limits. A "classic" show featuring music from the eternally wasted Tom Waits. (Until 1 a.m. and 6 a.m.)

Midnight (44) Soundstage. Repeated from Thursday at 2 a.m. with Alison Krauss and Union Station.


4:30 (44) Evening at Pops. Repeated from last week. Keith’s players go country with bluegrass’s Ricky Skaggs. (Until 5:30 p.m.)

7:00 (6) Small Soldiers (movie). Like Toy Story but with real violence. Denis Leary plays a toy-company exec whose wish for more-realistic action figures leads to an all-out plastic-and-guts shoot-out. With Phil Hartman in his last role. (Until 9 p.m.)

8:00 (2) Evening at Pops. A jazz-themed show featuring Patti Austin, Peter Cincotti, and Byron Stripling. To be repeated tonight at 3 a.m. (Until 9 p.m.

9:00 (2) Mystery: The Mrs. Bradley Mysteries: The Rising of the Moon. Bradley (Diana Rigg) investigates a circus murder. To be repeated tonight at midnight and 4 a.m., and on Channel 44 at 1 and 4 a.m. (Until 10 p.m.)

9:00 (12) Analyze This (movie). The title is the best thing in this often-bludgeoning 1999 comedy about a mob boss (Robert De Niro) and his skittish shrink (Billy Crystal). Not much you can’t predict, and you end up hating both main characters. (Until 11 p.m.)

10:00 (2) The 1900 House: A Rude Awakening. The Bowlers, a modern family who set out to survive life as it was lived in 1900, discover that 1900 was a sweaty, dirty place characterized by manual labor. To be repeated tonight at 1 and 5 a.m., and on Channel 44 on Thursday at 10 p.m. (Until 11 p.m.)

10:00 (10) The Restaurant. It’s true. Now they’re going to film us at work and make us watch it on TV. A new reality series about a guy starting a restaurant in New York City. To be followed next season by The CVS, The Newsstand, The Hobby Shop, and The Insurance Agency. (Until 11 p.m.)

11:00 (44) The American Experience: Murder at Harvard. Repeated from last week. Re-creating the infamous 1849 murder of Brahmin medic George Parkman by Harvard Med School prof John Webster. A janitor discovered Parkman’s mutilated body in the sewer under Webster’s lab, and after a lot of confusion and speculation and several tabloid field days, the accused was convicted. Based on Simon Schama’s book Dead Certainties: Unwarranted Speculation. (Until midnight.)

Midnight (44) Globe Trekker: Arab Gulf States. Didn’t see this one ever listed for prime time. Trekker Megan McCormick visits Kuwait’s war memorials, dives for pearls in the Arabian Gulf, roots around the ancient city of Ubar, and is just glad to have filmed it all before Bush and Blair moved in for the kill. (Until 1 a.m.)

1:00 and 4:00 a.m. (44) Mystery: The Mrs. Bradley Mysteries: The Rising of the Moon. Repeated from this evening at 9 p.m.


8:00 (2) History Detectives. Continuing the series from last week, our band of investigators head south to South Carolina, Louisiana, and Mississippi to dig up the real stories on another collection of local lore. (Until 9 p.m.)

8:00 (44) Globe Trekker: Globe Shopper. One aspect of the GT shows that’s more fun to watch than to do yourself is when the hosts go shopping — often for local goods displayed on piles of dung in open-air markets run by merchants who (unlike Americans) love to haggle. This show compiles past mercantile experiences in Sri Lanka (gems), Mexico (silver), Egypt (cotton), Ethiopia (spices), and Istanbul (everything else). (Until 9 p.m.)

9:00 (2) The American Experience: The Donner Party. Not "dinner," mind you. In 1846, a party of Donners (and fellow travelers) headed into the High Sierras way too late in the season to get out before snow trapped them. So they won themselves a place in Western history by eating one another as they dropped. To be repeated tonight at 1:30 a.m., and on Channel 44 at 1 and 4 a.m. (Until 10:30 p.m.)

10:00 (6) In the Shadow of Laci Peterson. Correspondent Elizabeth Vargas considers why some murdered/missing-women cases get national attention while others (she’ll cite specifics) never hit the front page. (Until 11 p.m.)

1:00 and 4:00 a.m. (44) The American Experience: The Donner Party. Repeated from this evening at 9 p.m.


7:30 (2) Great Performances: The Three Pickers: Legends of American Music. Pickers, not tenors, for a change. Picking their way through the top tier of US roots are Earl Scruggs, Doc Watson, and Ricky Skaggs. (Until 9 p.m.)

8:00 (44) Soundstage. Featuring music from Michael McDonald, Ashford and Simpson, the Doobie Brothers, Tom Johnston, and Patrick Simmons. (Until 9 p.m.)

9:00 (2) The Bee Gees: One Night Only. Lies! (Until 11 p.m.)


8:00 (2) National Geographic: The FBI. Boasting "unprecedented access," this documentary explores the complex history of America’s secret police — much of which involves abusing police powers to intimidate political dissidents for petty revenge. And your taxes paid for these guys to screw us. But that’s all over now. Right? (Until 9 p.m.)

9:00 (2) The Six Wives of Henry VIII: Jane Seymour and Anne of Cleves and Catherine Howard and Catherine Parr. Old Hank had a thing about women named Cathy. To be repeated tonight at 1 a.m., and on Channel 44 at 1 and 4 a.m. (Until 11 p.m.)

1:00 and 4:00 a.m. (44) The Six Wives of Henry VIII: Jane Seymour and Anne of Cleves and Catherine Howard and Catherine Parr. Repeated from this evening at 9 p.m.


7:30 (2) Basic Black: A Conversation with Anita Hill. Catching up with Anita. The Brandeis prof talks about the confirmation of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court, the myths surrounding that truly embarrassing event, and her own legacy. (Until 8 p.m.)

9:00 (2) Wide Angle. Tonight’s edition looks at the Angolan military’s campaign against AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa. (Until 10 p.m.)

9:00 (44) Mystery: The Mrs. Bradley Mysteries: The Rising of the Moon. Repeated from Sunday at 9 p.m.

10:00 (44) The 1900 House: A Rude Awakening. Repeated from Sunday at 10 p.m.

The 525th line. Long Time Here Dept.: So at the end of the line, some deity’s flunky will ask, "How did you spend your time on earth, my son?" And we’ll have to answer, "We wrote this column called ‘Hot Dots’ for 30 years for the Phoenix. It was kind of like television listings." "You mean to say you spent 30 years writing TV listings? Like TV Guide?" "Well, not exactly like TV Guide and not exactly your typical TV listings. It was more of an excuse to rant about culture and politics and media and to expose several generations of readers to nerdy supercilious vocabulary, unreconstructed counterculture hyperbole, and sophomoric jokes. Actually, it’s always been a little difficult to describe." "Uh . . . sounds cool . . . sorta. But is that all you did with your life." "Naw, I had a bunch of real jobs, worked for peace, had a family with two kids, met John Coltrane and Mick Jagger, climbed a couple of mountains." "Good enough. One more question: what’s ‘the 525th line’ mean?" "Lots of people ask that. Or at least they did back when people were more curious and less afraid of information. Five-hundred-twenty-five is the number of lines that are scanned onto a conventional picture tube per frame of (American) broadcast video. Metaphorically, if not entirely scientifically, the 525th line is ‘the bottom (or last) line.’ " "Well . . . okay, you may enter the Kingdom of Heaven. But you know there’s no cable, right?"

We took over "Hot Dots" in mid July of 1973. The first week’s listings featured Chuck Mangione, Helen Reddy, Flip Wilson, Elliot Richardson, Melanie, and episode two of An American Family. And in case any of you youngsters at the dawn of your TV-listings-writing careers is wondering: no, it doesn’t seem like only yesterday. Yesterday (when Dallas was the talk of the nation) didn’t have reality TV. Game shows, yes. Dumb series like The Dukes of Hazzard, yes. But no survivor racing or contrived courting or suicide stunting or mucus eating. Over the past 30 years, TV has been, on many occasions, horrible, but it’s never been as bad — or as cynical or as much a tool of the bastard Republican agenda — as it is now. One of the reasons we write about TV is, in the words of Korean video artist Nam June Paik, "in order to hate it more properly." Whatever its faults, stick with public television because it’s the only mass broadcast medium left that isn’t ruled by lowest-common-denominator cultural expectations. Commercial TV, by contrast, has evolved a powerfully clear and threatening agenda — to keep its viewers dumb, scared, and greedy. Dissent? Doesn’t exist. Narrative experimentation? Well, there’s Scrubs. Intellectual pursuits? Hoo-rah! Pass the Coors! Television: a mirror on the world our leaders want us to believe we live in. Think how bad it could be in another 30 years if we don’t throw the Bushies out on their fat Orwellian asses now.

Issue Date: July 18 - 24, 2003
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