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Archive for Wednesday, April 17, 2002

TV favorites reach milestones

April 17, 2002

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Tonight, "Dawson's Creek" (7 p.m., WB) celebrates its 100th episode. This over-written teen soap opera has essentially set the tone for the WB network since it debuted in 1998. The well-scrubbed faces of series stars James Van Der Beek, Katie Holmes, Michelle Williams, Joshua Jackson and Kerr Smith have adorned the covers of hundreds of fan magazines. They've starred in dozens of forgettable teen movies. In tonight's milestone episode, Charlie joins Joey on spring break.

One hundred episodes may be impressive for a primetime show, but not for daytime soaps, whose life span is often measured in decades. Today, ABC will air the 10,000th installment of "General Hospital." Joe Behar, who directed the very first "General Hospital" on April 1, 1963, will direct this episode as well.

Many well-known television and movie stars, and at least two pop singers, got their start on "General Hospital." The roster is nothing short of amazing, and includes: Richard Dean Anderson (Dr. Jeff Webber); Tia Carrere (Jade Soong); Shaun Cassidy (Dusty Walker); Mark Hamill (Kent Murray); Ricky Martin (Miguel Morez); Demi Moore (Jackie Templeton); Rena Sofer (Lois Ashton); Antonio Sabato, Jr. (Jagger Cates); Rick Springfield (Dr. Noah Drake); John Stamos (Blackie Parrish); Janine Turner (Laura Templeton) and Jack Wagner (Frisco Jones).

Mention Memphis, Tenn., and most folks think of blues on Beale Street, tourists at Graceland, ribs at the Rendezvous and those quirky elevator-riding ducks at the Peabody Hotel. The three-part documentary series "Memphis Homicide Squad" (9 p.m., Court TV), takes a look at the Memphis that tourists don't see. A Court TV crew spent four months tailing the city's police force, which offered them complete access to its daily operations. Each episode focuses on the discovery of one or more homicides and will follow each case to its conclusion.

While this documentary series lacks the slick camera movement and music video techniques of director Barry Levinson's NBC drama "Homicide," it gives viewers a bracing look at real police work it may be too realistic for some. Tonight's installment begins with the discovery of the rather ripe corpse of a homeless man. He had been left by the side of a Dumpster, with a piece of industrial insulation covering his head. My first thought was, "Thank goodness for the insulation." But, to my horror, the cops peel it away so they can begin to identify the corpse. "Homicide Squad" is not for the squeamish. The search for this "John Doe's" identity takes up much of this first hour. "Squad" also shows how some of the officers deal with their grisly task. One detective loves fishing with his young son. Another unmarried officer retreats to a room in his mother's house filled with garish models, action figures and other monster movie memorabilia. These objects help him relax and forget about the real creatures out on the street.

Tonight's other highlights

Scheduled on "60 Minutes II" (7 p.m., CBS): A glance at a dangerous vehicle commonly used by schools, day care centers and churches.

Tom Brokaw hosts a News Special (7 p.m., NBC) aboard the aircraft carrier John C. Stennis. Taped previously.

Bernie struggles to keep family life G-rated on "Bernie Mac" (8 p.m., Fox).

Thanksgiving brings confusion and angst on a repeat of "The West Wing" (8 p.m., NBC).

Kid Rock, Train, Pink and other contemporary pop artists salute their favorite rock relics on "Icon: Aerosmith" (8 p.m., MTV).

On back-to-back episodes of "The Job" (ABC), McNeil suspects that Frank may be gay (8 p.m.), a Florida vacation goes south (8:30 p.m.).

Former President Clinton discusses the NAFTA treaty and its many critics in the conclusion of the three-part series "Commanding Heights: The Battle for the World Economy" (8 p.m., PBS).

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