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Archive for Saturday, July 20, 2002

For the People’ hardly matches title

July 20, 2002

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Oh joy, another show about lawyers. Lea Thompson of the late and unloved NBC comedy "Caroline in the City" returns in "For The People" (9 p.m., Sunday, Lifetime). She's Camille Paris, a spunky, politically liberal Los Angeles assistant district attorney. A Martinez co-stars as Michael Olivas, a public defender who is the ex-husband of Paris.

Her career track develops some serious potholes with the election of Lora Gibson (Debbi Morgan), a Republican conservative district attorney who happens to be black. But rather than fire Paris, Gibson makes the bleeding-heart do-gooder her assistant. This situation sets up plenty of opportunities for Paris and Gibson to bicker about ideology and politics. It's "LA Law" meets "Cagney & Lacey" meets "Hannity and Colmes."

Like many Lifetime dramas, "For the People" is a very chatty show. Paris seems to carry on five conversations at once while drinking gallons of coffee. But she has to be hyper-caffeinated to stay awake through this first episode that has her trapping a drug dealer, trying to arrest a hate-spewing talk radio host and bonding with her substance and booze-abusing sister Erica (Wendy Gazelle). In less than 42 minutes of drama, we hear passionate arguments about three-strike laws, gay rights, God, the Bible and the 12-Steps. And on top of that, we get to see Paris play miniature golf.

As Paris, Thompson seems to be driving a car with only two gears -- forward and neutral. She's either flying down the hall with her arms waving, or sunk in her chair and ready for her close-up. Gibson, on the other hand, never releases the parking break. She strikes icy poses and pontificates about family values and tradition, but doesn't get her hands dirty with actual casework. Paris and Gibson don't merely disagree about politics they seem to inhabit separate planets.

Today's highlights

The big screen cartoon hero Jimmy Neutron returns with "When Pants Attack" (7 p.m., Nickelodeon).

Liv Ullman stars in Ingmar Bergman's 1972 drama "Cries and Whispers" (8 p.m., Saturday, Sundance). The film won an Oscar for cinematographer Sven Nykvist.

Natasha Henstridge, yet again, is joined by Natasha Williams and Kristen Miller in the new series "She Spies" (9 p.m., NBC). This primetime variation on "Charlie's Angels" will appear on NBC for four weeks before airing in syndication this fall.

Winona Ryder is the host on this repeat of "Saturday Night Live" (10:30 p.m., NBC) featuring musical guest Moby.

Sunday's highlights

Repeat reports scheduled on "60 Minutes" (6 p.m., CBS): border patrol woes; debating anti-abortionists' right to publish a "hit list"; an interview with John Nash, whose life story inspired "A Beautiful Mind."

Rebecca DeMornay and Steven Weber star in the repeat television remake of Stephen King's "The Shining" (8 p.m., ABC).

"Strong Medicine" (8 p.m., Lifetime) enters its third season.

The gang trolls for sailors during Fleet Week as "Sex and the City" (8 p.m., HBO) enters its fifth season.

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