Archive for Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Nova’ follows history of supersonic flight

January 18, 2005

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"Supersonic Dream" on "Nova" (7 p.m., PBS) looks at the three-decade history of the Concorde, the French-British airliner designed to break the sound barrier and revolutionize air transport. After the plane's maiden flight in 1969, most experts assumed that the future belonged to supersonic travel and that New York-to-London trips would take just a few hours. Yet here we are, more than 30 years later, with airliners flying not much faster than the old 727s of the 1960s.

  • Executive producer Kelsey Grammer makes a guest appearance on his show "World Cup Comedy" (7 p.m., PAX). "Cup" showcases teams of improvisational comics. As on "Whose Line is It Anyway?" performers are put on the spot and asked to act out improbable situations.

But "Cup" pits two teams against each other, and every situation has to be done in the style of a particular TV show or movie. For instance, in tonight's enjoyable competition, comics are asked to act out a scene involving a woman trying to join an all-men's social club in the 19th century, but performed in the style of a 21st-century Britney Spears video.

  • British comic Jimmy Carr hosts "Distraction" (9:30 p.m., Comedy Central), a simple quiz show with a sadistic twist. Carr presents contestants with fairly straightforward trivia questions, but as they answer they are beset by a multitude of annoyances.

In one segment, stunt actors batter participants with prop bottles and breakaway furniture every time they ring the buzzer. In another segment, contestants are challenged to fasten clothespins to their faces while answering questions. It gets very old very fast, as does Carr's crude sexual banter. Funny, the G-rated PAX show "World Cup Comedy" is far more sophisticated and rewarding.

Tonight's other highlights

  • Rory stumbles onto a secret campus society on "Gilmore Girls" (7 p.m., WB).
  • The four-hour documentary "Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson" (8 p.m., PBS) concludes.
  • The rabbit expires on "Judging Amy" (9 p.m., CBS).
  • An apparent revenge killing of a gang member proves more complicated on "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" (9 p.m., NBC).
  • A restaurant owner's taste for young women proves troublesome on "NYPD Blue" (9 p.m., ABC).
  • The new documentary-style series "My Super Sweet 16" (9:30 p.m., MTV) explores the planning, primping and drama behind coming-of-age celebrations.

Series notes

A deadly doppelganger on "Navy NCIS" (7 p.m., CBS) ... Caroline Rhea hosts a cast reunion on "The Biggest Loser" (7 p.m., NBC) ... A simple game becomes an obsession on "My Wife and Kids" (7 p.m., ABC) ... Second thoughts on "All of Us" (7 p.m., UPN).

George has doubts about Ernie's intended on "George Lopez" (7:30 p.m., ABC) ... Post-breakup spats on "Eve" (7:30 p.m., UPN).

Elliot is a competitive distraction on "Scrubs" (8 p.m., NBC) ... Home-surveillance wars on "According to Jim" (8 p.m., ABC) ... A tough girl in a weird town on "Veronica Mars" (8 p.m., UPN) ... Prom night on "High School Reunion" (8 p.m., WB).

An intimate letdown on "Committed" (8:30 p.m., NBC) ... First impressions on "Rodney" (8:30 p.m., ABC).

Late night

Ice Cube appears on "Late Show with David Letterman" (10:35 p.m., CBS) ... Jay Leno hosts Samuel L. Jackson, Tara Reid and music by Alter Bridge on "The Tonight Show" (10:35 p.m., NBC) ... Tony Shalhoub and Elefant appear on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" (11:05 p.m., ABC).

Heidi Klum, Harland Williams and Joss Stone are booked on "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" (11:35 p.m., NBC) ... Craig Ferguson hosts Regis Philbin and Rob Morrow on "The Late, Late Show" (11:37 p.m., CBS).

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