Greed, political scandal and duplicitous investment schemes didn't start with Enron. Or Whitewater. When English novelist Anthony Trollope returned home from a world tour in 1872 he was shocked at the vulgar, money-grubbing ways of his country's aristocracy and rising moneyed class. He poured his outrage into the novel "The Way We Live Now," which has been lavishly adapted for "Masterpiece Theatre" (8 p.m., PBS).
David Suchet ("Poirot") portrays the financier Augustus Melmotte. The upper crust folk look down on him, but they flock to Melmotte anyway, because he has money, and they do not. Matthew MacFadyen ("Wuthering Heights") plays the bad-boy baronet Sir Felix Carbury. Though he has burned through his family's fortunes at London's gambling tables, he thinks he has one trump card left. He has won the affections of Melmotte's slightly dotty daughter Marie (Shirley Henderson). Meanwhile, Carbury's scheming mother (Cheryl Campbell) is hoping to secure her family's fortune by marrying off her daughter Hetta (Paloma Baeza) to her virtuous cousin Roger (Douglas Hodge). But Hetta has her heart set on Roger's protege, Paul Montague (Cillian Murphy), who has just sold a fantastic Rocky Mountain railroad scheme to the tycoon Melmotte. Montague describes his railroad as a chance of a lifetime. Melmotte sees it as an opportunity for the biggest swindle of all.
While slow to build, "The Way We Live Now" blooms into an opulent gilded-age soap opera filled with the gorgeous period details, lavish houses and sumptuous landscapes that we've come to expect from "Masterpiece Theatre" productions. With a script by Andrew Davies ("Bridget Jones Diary"), this miniseries will run for the next four Monday nights, concluding April 22.
Â The true-life emergency room drama "Code Blue" (7 p.m., TLC) enters its second season. Ten episodes will take place at Memorial Health Medical Center in Savannah, Ga., allowing viewers to familiarize themselves with a group of doctors and residents who cope with accidents, life and death on a daily basis. The series also spotlights the unique and colorful city of Savannah.
Tonight's other highlights
Â Beginning tonight, viewers get a second chance to catch the morning talk show "The View" (6 p.m., A&E;).
Â David Pelletier and Jamie Sale appear in their first exhibition since the Olympics on "Shared Gold Â Skating Champions Return to Ice" (7 p.m., NBC).
Â Sixty-four competing teams come down to two as the NCAA Tournament (8 p.m., CBS) concludes. Live from Atlanta.
Â Evidence suggests that a cop was killed by friendly fire on "Third Watch" (8 p.m., NBC).
Â Alex has dinner with the 15 remaining eager (no, make that desperate) contestants on "The Bachelor" (8 p.m., ABC).