The leaves are falling, and it's time to return to school. Or at least that's what AMC wants us to do with their new nine-part interview show "Movies 101 with Richard Brown" (9:30 p.m., AMC). Brown has been teaching an adult education class to Manhattan movie lovers since 1970. The tradition began one night when a film canister did not arrive and Brown called up his friend and neighbor Mel Brooks, who consented to an interview that proved more entertaining than the scheduled movie.
Tonight, "101" kicks off with a chat with director Martin Scorsese.
While "101" may remind some viewers of James Lipton's "Inside the Actors Studio" program on Bravo, Brown does a much better job of asking good questions and fading into the background.
In his brief time with Scorsese, Brown allows the director to discuss his upbringing in New York City's Little Italy, the influential role of a local parish priest in his life and his own brief time in seminary training. According to Scorsese, he was asked to leave after a particularly arduous struggle with Latin.
Scorsese also explains how he used voiceover in "GoodFellas" to give the movie its tone and to approximate the voices of the wise-guy street-corner storytellers of his youth. He rues the "failure" of his attempt to fuse the naturalistic dialogue of John Cassavetes movies with musical-genre filmmaking in "New York, New York," and discusses the maddening balancing act of making a creative, improvisational work on a strict shooting schedule.
And he does this all in a half-hour. If "Movies 101" has a major flaw, it's too darn short. We have all of the ingredients for a film feast, but all we get is an appetizer.
Tonight's other highlights
¢ A young accident victim returns to console his grieving parents on "Ghost Whisperer" (7 p.m., CBS).
¢ Rosanna Arquette guest stars on the seventh-season premiere of "Malcolm in the Middle" (7:30 p.m., Fox).
¢ An escaped mental patient may be linked to the mystery ship on "Threshold" (8 p.m., CBS).
¢ A killer targets organ transplant patients on "Killer Instinct" (8 p.m., Fox).
¢ A rash decision on "Inconceivable" (9 p.m., NBC).
¢ Scheduled on "20/20" (9 p.m., ABC): interviews with Ashley Smith and Carole Radziwill, and a profile of a high school athlete who surmounted crippling birth defects.