What To Watch
A day-to-day guide to notable programs (Times are Eastern daylight and are subject to change)
Monday July 26
Star Trek (Sci-Fi Channel, TV-PG) Think hard: ”Errand of Mercy,” ”Friday’s Child,” ”The Trouble With Tribbles,” and ”Day of the Dove.” But of course — it’s Klingon week! (Airs through July 29)
Tales Of The City (Bravo, TV-14) Armistead Maupin’s boho ’70s saga returns. (Airs through July 28)
That ’70s Show (Fox, TV-PG-DL) The X-Files‘ Mitch Pileggi lets it all hang out as an old pal who invites unsuspecting Red and Kitty to a swinging party, and Eric gets jealous of Hyde.
A Kidnapping In The Family (ABC, TV-PG) TV movie. Kate Jackson. Tracey Gold. Divorced mom. Child abuse. Cult worship. Abduction. You connect the dots. (R)
Dateline (NBC) A couple searching for a child to adopt become unwittingly involved in a baby-selling scheme.
The Brandon Teena Story (Cinemax, TV-MA) The documentary examines the 1993 triple murder stemming from the life of gender-bending Nebraska woman Teena Brandon.
Undressed (MTV, TV-14-LVS) Ah, the memories of your dorm mate getting lucky in the overhead bunk while you were studying for that history midterm. MTV’s new verité drama wants to help you revisit those experiences, but its explorations of sex are about as deep as a Bud Light ad. As one woman suggests to her orgasm-deprived roomie, ”Let your fingers do the walking.” Yeah, by changing the channel on the remote. C- — Laura Morgan
Tuesday July 27
Jag (CBS, TV-PG-V) Harm gets gas pains when he probes charges that the U.S. military used chemical weaponry on its own people during the Gulf War. (R)
Spin City (ABC, TV-PG-D) It’s more like Synergy City when the mayor makes an ass of himself on the sitcom’s Disney/ABC/GO Network bedfellow Politically Incorrect. (R)
P.O.V. (PBS, TV-PG) A 15-year-old boy, born to Puerto Rican revolutionaries, retraces the steps of his life in The Double Life of Ernesto Gomez Gomez.
*Check Local Listings
NYPD Blue (ABC, TV-14-LS) John’s fears over an AWOL Dolores mark the beginning of the end of last season. (R)
Fox Files (Fox) It got ugly when correspondent Arthel Neville sat down with ex-WWF star Sable (née Rena Mero, pictured), who’s currently suing the league for breach of contract. Neville says that midway through the interview, Mero’s husband, former wrestler Marc Mero, had second thoughts and confiscated the tapes. ”At that point, our attorneys got involved,” says Neville. ”They finally gave the tapes back, but after three or four hours. It was an ordeal.” Let’s get ready to rumble!
Wednesday July 28
The Eleventh Commandment (BETMovies/STARZ!) This noirish drama, part of the net’s Pan-African Film Festival, tells the flashback-driven tale of the mysterious relationship between two men in present-day Paris.
Norm (ABC, TV-14-DL) Ever ready to mix business with pleasure, Norm foolishly gets mixed up with one of Laurie’s sexually aggressive clients, while Laurie tries to help a hydrophobe. (R)
World’s Most Amazing Videos (NBC, TV-14) A tiff between two Indian politicians provokes a riot, and a 12-million-pound choo-choo careens into a tractor trailer, but the best part is when they fill a dead whale with dynamite and blow it up! (R)
The Rockford Files: Punishment And Crime (CBS, TV-PG-LV) James Garner returned for the 1996 telemovie in which Rocky helps a Hollywood honcho being pursued by Russian mobsters. (R)
Law & Order (NBC, TV-14) Carmichael and McCoy are stymied by a mobbed-up murder suspect with friends in high (and low) places. (R)
Oz (HBO, TV-MA) Nazi youth Andrew Schillinger makes it to a different kind of fatherland — joining Dad in Em City — after the brutal car-dragging murder of a black man.
South Park (Comedy Central, TV-MA) Kyle and Ike go on a ”Jewbilee” camping trip, as a meteor shower arrives.
Signs From God (Fox, TV-PG) According to exec producer Nancy Stern, ”There have been three times as many natural disasters between 1990 and 1999 as there have been the rest of the century.” The resulting fear, she reasons, may be behind the parallel increase in religious visions, three of which are looked at by the special and subjected to the test of forensic science. In Mexico, a woman sees the visages of Jesus and the Virgin Mary in rose petals placed in her prayer book. In Bolivia people encounter a stigmatic and a statue of Jesus that bleeds (shown). ”We’re not here to say whether these people are right or wrong,” says Stern. ”It really gives you something to think about.”
Thursday July 29
Teen Files (UPN, TV-14) Talk show/infomercial huckster Leeza Gibbons hosts a two-part tutorial imparting ”The Truth About Sex” and ”The Truth About Hate.”
Friends (NBC, TV-PG) Phoebe finds a policeman’s badge and promptly busts some quality-of-life offenders — till she meets, and falls for, its flatfoot owner (guest Michael Rapaport). (R)
An American Celebration At Ford’s Theatre (ABC, TV-G) As Bill Clinton watches his back, the annual revue, which celebrates America’s musical heritage, serves up performances by Nathan Lane, Debbie Allen, Diana Krall, and Alan Jackson.
Mystery! (PBS, TV-PG-L) John Thaw stars as a British expatriate who’s plucked from his idyllic life in Greece to probe the disappearance of his one-night stand (don’t you hate when that happens?) in Into the Blue. (R)
*Check Local Listings
Paris Fashion Collections (ABC) Join Lagerfeld, Versace, Gaultier, Valentino, Givenchy, and host Isabella Rossellini for a gander at Autumn/Winter Haute Couture 1999.
Diagnosis Murder (CBS, TV-14-V) There’s a murderer in the house in this second part of a twofer, and the gang races against real time (a clock is superimposed on the screen) to nail him. (R)
48 Hours (CBS) A segment on Clint Hallam, the world’s first hand-transplant recipient, shows that his drama didn’t end in the OR. (R)
ER (NBC, TV-PG) Ex L.A. Lawyer Sheila Kelley revisits her old time slot to regale us again with a stream of arcane gibberish — this time as a schizoid street woman. (R)
Nightline In Prime Time: Brave New World (ABC) Don’t let its title fool you; this isn’t one of those cheesy expansions of a newsmag franchise, but an insightful new creation. Veteran telejournalist Robert Krulwich (pictured) furthers his crusade on behalf of intelligent television with the unfortunately named series. Turns out tonight’s topic, ”Time,” also serves as a mission statement of sorts, as Krulwich uses set pieces, musical numbers, even a dance segment to lament the triumph of the short attention span and our frantic addiction to technology-driven speed. A
Friday July 30
The Woman In The Window (Turner Classic Movies, TV-PG) Debuting a formula he’d repeat a year later (1945) in Scarlet Street, director Fritz Lang cast Edward G. Robinson as a Milquetoast seduced into a web of deceit by the stunning Joan Bennett.
Providence (NBC, TV-PG) Sydney struggles to get closer to Dr. Marcus (oh dear) and befriends a troubled teenage patient (aww … ), while Jim tries to save a porcine mascot from the barbecue (yay!). (R)
Unsolved Mysteries (CBS, TV-PG-V) A family’s cruise-ship vacation goes horribly awry when the daughter disappears during the night. (R)
Homicide: Life On The Street (NBC, TV-14) Giancarlo Esposito finally clicked as Mike Giardello when he was put in charge of a citywide effort to find the source of a mysterious flu. (R)
Andy Warhol’s Bad (Sundance Channel, R) This dark 1977 romp, starring Carroll Baker as an electrologist with an unusual side biz, and Perry King (pictured, with Stefania Casini) as a no-count hunk, is a skanky hoot.
Saturday July 31
Early Edition (CBS, TV-G) Gary tries to stop a star Chicago Cubs prospect from signing with another club — and losing his true love. (R)
A Touch Of Frost (A&E, TV-PG) The good inspector (David Jason) reluctantly returns to the force to suss out the murder of a reclusive art collector in ”Appendix Man.”
Why Do Fools Fall In Love (HBO, R) Halle Berry, Lela Rochon, and Vivica A. Fox star as the three professed widows of R&B great Frankie Lymon who forge a friendship in the 1998 feature.
America’s Most Wanted (Fox, TV-PG-V) When AMW profiled a thief dubbed the Civil War Bandit (so named for his trademark Confederate cap) last season, viewers called in insisting WWF star Big Boss Man was the crook. Tonight, the grappler talks about the criminally wacky mix-up.
Hard Rock Live (VH1, TV-PG) Sheryl Crow (shown) plays the opening act for a change, kicking off season No. 3 of the late-night jam series.
Sunday August 1
Rotten Ralph (Fox Family Channel, TV-Y7) The stop-motion animated series about a lovable, ne’er-do-well kitty gets a four-episode mini-marathon.
Ballyhoo: The Hollywood Side Show (American Movie Classics, TV-G) This Hollywood Real to Reel segment recalls a time when studios devised promotional gimmicks more inspired than a tie-in Happy Meal. To wit: William Castle’s 1959 butt-buzzing classic, The Tingler, which immediately follows. (R)
My Date With The President’s Daughter (ABC, TV-G) A boy next door takes the girl at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. out to a school dance. Sorry, guys, but there’s no Chelsea Clinton cameo. (R)
King Of The Hill (Fox, TV-PG) Hank becomes obsessed with learning the secret behind a magic trick that Peggy took part in, but his wife’s lips are sealed. (R)
Restless Spirits (Showtime, TV-PG) Marsha Mason stars in this fantasy about a girl (Juliana Wimbles) who tries to guide the ghosts of two dead aviators to peace in the afterlife. It took Accent Entertainment, Showtime, Hallmark, and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation to pull this thing together. Let’s see if it’s worth it.
Series Debut 8-9PM
You Asked For It (NBC, TV-PG) Apparently, ”it” would be a girl who cries tears of glass, a man who snuggles inside a sleeping bag full of rattlesnakes, and a pair of female sumo wrestlers.
The Simpsons (Fox, TV-PG) Isabella Rossellini drops by Springfield as an art dealer who thinks Homer’s rage-driven pieces are fabulous — a fact that drives jealous Marge crazy. (R)
Futurama (Fox, TV-PG-L) Bender misbehaves at a Beastie Boys concert, and if the robot devil tormenting him later in hell sounds familiar, it’s because he’s voiced by Dan Castellaneta (a.k.a. Homer Simpson). (R)
Judge Dredd (NBC, TV-14) Sylvester Stallone lent his visage to this 1995 adaptation of the popular comic book series about a futuristic law enforcer (who also serves as jury and executioner).
The X-Files (Fox, TV-14-V) Who says Scully is a cold fish? This episode finds the stoic redhead attracted to Mulder’s chief suspect in a murder. Yum! (R)
Pacific Blue (USA Network, TV-PG) The pedal-pushing cop series gets a new locale (for two weeks at least), as the squad jets to Hawaii to bust a drug-smuggling empire ruled by grappling guest star Shawn Michaels of the WWF. (Concludes Aug. 8)
The Practice (ABC, TV-14-DL) This pivotal ep furthers two of the season’s most enticing plotlines, as Ellenor is implicated in George Vogelman’s alleged decapitation murder and Judge Kittleson (Holland Taylor) asks Bobby’s advice on a sexual-harassment case. (R)
The Hoop Life (Showtime, TV-MA-VSLD) Marvin’s bizarre, stress-induced hallucinations send him running for the therapist’s couch.
Columbo And The Murder Of A Rock Star (Fox Family Channel, TV-PG) The scraggly sleuth hunts a lawyer who killed his rock-star girlfriend after she harmonized with another man. (R)
Intimate Portrait: Natalie Cole (Lifetime, TV-PG) Being Daddy’s little girl didn’t stop the R&B chanteuse from screwing up along the way to superstardom. She — with a little help from admirers Tony Bennett and Luther Vandross — tells us how.
The Ben Stiller Show (FX, TV-PG-DL) God bless FX for resurrecting the sketch-comedy show whose pungent foresight naturally doomed it to obscurity. That, and Fox’s boneheaded scheduling, which in the 1992-93 season pitted it against 60 Minutes. No wonder, then, that Stiller got the ax after a mere 13 episodes. The silver lining is that, never having had time to grow labored, its pie-in-the-face ridicule of Gen-X culture remains an absolute treasure. Fans, of course, will never forget Janeane Garofalo’s hilariously overbaked impersonation of ex-MTV VJ Karen Duffy; the Nirvana-meets-the-Monkees parody, ”The Grungies”; and the ensemble’s piece de resistance, a U2 mockumentary (featuring, from left, Bob Odenkirk, Stiller, Andy Dick, and an unidentified skit mate) that lampooned the lads’ agonized, cross-dressing video for ”One.”
Intimate Universe (TLC, TV-PG) Robert Winston and his acclaimed science series return with ”The Human Body,” in which he trains his Fantastic Voyage-esque view on brain neurons, the process of aging, the final months of a cancer-ravaged body, and a ”making of” wrap-up detailing the technology that made the series’ awe-inspiring view possible. (Airs through Aug. 2) A-