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Archive for Monday, May 17, 2004

PBS puts reality spin on history

May 17, 2004

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Part "Survivor" and part history lesson, the new re-enactment series "Colonial House" (7 p.m., PBS, check local listings) chronicles the lives of 25 modern-day Americans and one Briton as they re-create the experiences of colonial settlers on the rocky coast of Maine. Unlike their 17th-century counterparts, these immigrants arrive with wooden houses waiting for them, along with tons of foodstuffs.

Before disembarking from their ship, each participant was assigned a role that pegged them in the 17th-century social order, from governor to indentured servant. Chosen from thousands of applicants, some of the new settlers still find it difficult to leave the 21st century behind. The rigid social hierarchy and subservient role of women leaves some in shock. "Colonial House" will run over four nights, including tomorrow, May 24 and May 25.

  • Lionel Ritchie and Cedric the Entertainer host "Motown 45" (7 p.m., ABC), a two-hour celebration of the Detroit-based record label founded by Berry Gordy Jr. in 1959. Artists new and old will perform the music of The Supremes, The Four Tops, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Martha and the Vandellas and more.

This special recalls not the Motown sound of the 1960s and early 1970s, but the legendary 1983 television special "Motown 25," one of the most memorable musical moments in television history. You could almost hear the entire nation gasp as Michael Jackson "moon-walked" for the very first time.

  • The animated sketch comedy show "ILL-ustrated" (10:30 p.m., VH1) takes two-dimensional potshots at political figures, movies and even VH1 itself. Some of the cartoon lampoons include a look at "Yogi Bush" drilling for oil in Jellystone park, a Mel Gibson sequel called "Passion of the Christ II: Beyond Thunderdome" and a pointless VH1 nostalgia show called "So Five Seconds Ago."

Tonight's other highlights

  • Flashbacks of the final three on "American Idol" (7 p.m., Fox).
  • "Superstar USA" (8 p.m., WB) showcases dreadful and delusional performers who think they have talent but don't.
  • Horatio travels to New York on "CSI: Miami" (9 p.m., CBS). This episode sets up the latest spin-off, a New York-based "CSI" starring Gary Sinise and Melina Kanakaredes.
  • Regis Philbin hosts "Super Millionaire" (9 p.m., ABC).

Late night

Antonio Banderas and Alanis Morrissette appear on "Late Show with David Letterman" (10:35 p.m., CBS) ... Jay Leno hosts Rodney Dangerfield, Omarosa and Slipknot on "The Tonight Show" (10:35 p.m., NBC).

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