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Archive for Saturday, April 9, 2005

Whoops, she does it again

April 9, 2005

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The comedy special "Whoopi: Back To Broadway -- The 20th Anniversary" (9 p.m. today, HBO) reunites director Mike Nichols with comic Whoopi Goldberg on a New York stage, where Nichols originally presented Goldberg in 1985.

"Whoopi" offers many of the comedian's stock characters, including Fontaine, a dope-smoking street person given to political rants. While some may enjoy Fontaine's extended zingers about the Bush administration, they serve to remind us how much of Goldberg's act has become political and too often, predictable.

A fake documentary (a crockumentary, if you will) disguised as a geological thriller (as opposed to a logical thriller), "Supervolcano" uses news magazine style talking heads to look back at the results of a volcanic explosion at Yellowstone Park that makes the 1980 Mt. St. Helens eruption look like a firecracker. "Super" also offers a movie-style narrative of the events leading up to the eruption, involving a group of intrepid Park Service scientists trying to understand the unusual activities surrounding Old Faithful and other popular attractions.

"Super" does a good job of mixing real science with "what if" sensationalism. Characters discuss plate tectonics and the differences between volcanic and seismic activity in ways that sound less than stilted. And that's no small accomplishment.

On-screen scientists also use "Jurassic Park"-style computer animated graphics to show us how the park is sitting on a giant lake of magma that is most certainly scheduled to blow up in dramatic fashion. But since it only erupts once or twice every million years or so, there's no telling just when it will happen.

Today's highlights

  • Christmas with new neighbors on "Little House on the Prairie" (7 p.m., ABC).
  • Hugh Grant stars in the 2002 comedy "About a Boy" (8 p.m., ABC).
  • Cameron Diaz is host on "Saturday Night Live" (10:30 p.m., NBC), featuring musical guest Green Day.

Sunday's highlights

  • Scheduled on "60 Minutes" (6 p.m., CBS): a former mobster; Homeland Security waste; an interview with Jane Fonda continues.
  • David Duchovny appears on "Inside the Actor's Studio" (6 p.m., Bravo), now in its new timeslot.
  • Another palooka hits the mat on "The Contender" (7 p.m., NBC).
  • Tears and drywall on "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" (7 p.m., ABC).
  • Susan's mom, Sophie (Lesley Ann Warren), pops in on "Desperate Housewives" (8 p.m., ABC).

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