Nobody watches "ripped-from-the-headlines" movies for the plot, so the makers of "Murder in the Hamptons" (8 p.m., Lifetime) wisely decided to ramp up the camp value and emphasize the deranged behavior of its pretty protagonist. Based on the well-documented murder of Wall Street gazillionaire Ted Ammon (David Sutcliffe), "Hamptons" stars Poppy Montgomery ("Without a Trace") as Ammon's wife, Generosa.
A hot-blooded artist turned real estate agent, Generosa meets Ted when she storms into his posh office to lambaste him for not showing up for an appointment. Ted likes her fiery temper and takes her to dinner, the altar and an adoption agency in rapid succession. The movie wastes no time getting to Generosa's role as a high-strung housewife in a gilded cage, where she proceeds to go stark raving bonkers.
The high point of "Hamptons" is an elaborate scene involving a fabulous dinner party for Ted's clients. When one of them refers to Generosa's just-planted tulips as a lovely "sea of red," our unstrung heroine goes batty, screaming, "They're burgundy! Burgundy!" before proceeding to dig them up with the ferocity of Martha Stewart being whipped with one of Joan Crawford's wire hangers.
After the tulip scene, Generosa becomes increasingly paranoid about Ted's fidelity and breaks into one of his business lunches with memorably cringe-inducing behavior.
A tale truly stranger than fiction, filled with madness, jealousy, a thermonuclear divorce, murder, cancerous instant karma and a sensational trial, "Murder in the Hampton" is a potboiler from beginning to end. And you'll never think of tulips in quite the same way.
¢ Why did some societies advance while others remained static? How did Western nations develop the ability to travel to the moon while the natives of New Guinea remained in the Stone Age? To answer that question, author Jared Diamond wrote the Pulitzer Prize-winning book "Guns, Germs, and Steel" (Norton, 1999) and the basis for a three part "National Geographic" series (9 p.m., PBS).
Tonight's other highlights
¢ Gordon Ramsey behaves like a beast for two hours on "Hell's Kitchen" (7 p.m., Fox).
¢ Teens sharpen their No. 2 pencils on "The Scholar" (7 p.m., ABC).
¢ Thanksgiving angst on "Everybody Loves Raymond" (7 p.m., CBS).
¢ Singers compete to become a member of an Australian rock group on "Rock Star: INXS" (8 p.m., CBS).
¢ Ben Stiller and Robert De Niro star in the 2000 comedy "Meet the Parents" (8 p.m., ABC).
¢ An anxious vet returns on "Las Vegas" (8 p.m., NBC). Lara Flynn Boyle will join the cast of "Las Vegas" in the fall. She'll play the owner of the Montecito Casino.
¢ Pharmaceutical sales can be murder on "The Closer" (8 p.m., TNT).
¢ Death by disco on "CSI: Miami" (9 p.m., CBS).
¢ Fate smites a Good Samaritan on "Medium" (9 p.m., NBC).