Archive for Wednesday, April 4, 2001

American High’ gets new life

April 4, 2001


Last August, when "American High" premiered on Fox, the documentary series received rave reviews from TV critics including me. It aired twice before being yanked by the network. We live in a world where the XFL gets propped up for three months despite horrible ratings, but good shows get the hook as soon as their demographics falter.

Happily, PBS agreed to pick up the series, and they will air back-to-back half-hour episodes every Wednesday through June 20, when we get to see the students graduate. It's not every day that PBS picks up a show from the network that brought you "Temptation Island."

In "American High" (9 p.m., PBS), R.J. Cutler ("The War Room") turned his cameras on a real suburban high school outside Chicago and followed students as they faced some of the most difficult decisions of their lives. Students provided hundreds of hours of video diaries and other impromptu footage.

Unlike the slick and precocious dialogue featured on "Dawson's Creek" and its many clones, the students here range from self-possessed young adults to complete screw-ups. While many of the video diary entries reflect a certain self-consciousness, the overall effect is refreshingly honest.

Funny, touching and often excruciating, "American High" will remind many viewers of what it was like to be a teen-ager. Quite addictive.

The woman many consider Hollywood's last star reflects on her film career, her relations with James Dean, Montgomery Clift and Richard Burton, as well as her AIDS charity work on "Elizabeth Taylor: England's Other Elizabeth" on "Great Performances" (7 p.m., PBS, check local listings).

Tonight's other highlights

The cops close in on Thomas Capano (Mark Harmon) in the conclusion of "And Never Let Her Go" (8 p.m., CBS).

Toby and the president argue over going public with his affliction on "The West Wing" (8 p.m., NBC).

High-tech robots and the men who love them on "Robotica" (8 p.m., TLC).

Two new casualties in the war on drugs on "Law & Order" (9 p.m., NBC).

Jessie's eating disorder flares up again on "Once and Again" (9 p.m., ABC).

An interview with the crossover pop singer on "Bravo Profiles: Angel of Music Sarah Brightman" (9 p.m., Bravo).

Cult choice

Scientists (Peter Cushing and Edward Judd) discover bone-crushing tentacled creatures in the 1966 British chiller "Island of Terror" (11:45 p.m., AMC).

Series notes

"King," "'70s," and "Creek" are repeats ... Dog tired on "King of Queens" (7 p.m., CBS) ... Ed takes his old girlfriend as a client on "Ed" (7 p.m., NBC) ... Kitty wants to try for another baby on "That '70s Show" (7 p.m., Fox) ... Michael needs to get back in shape on "My Wife and Kids" (7 p.m., ABC) ... A rogue missile commander may spark war on "Seven Days" (7 p.m., UPN) ... Dawson fawns over Mr. Brooks' work on "Dawson's Creek" (7 p.m., WB).

Advice for mom on "Some of My Best Friends" (87:30 p.m., CBS) ... Sean tries to shelter a girl from his brother's charms on "Grounded For Life" (7:30 p.m., Fox) ... Improvisations on "Whose Line is it Anyway" (7:30 p.m., ABC).

Elimination continues on "Boot Camp" (8 p.m., Fox) ... Kate may not want to be a Mom on "The Drew Carey Show" (8 p.m., ABC).

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