One doesn't expect touching moments from "Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List" (8 p.m., Bravo), but the foul-mouthed, celebrity-obsessed comic delivers them in spades on a very special episode documenting her tour of military bases in Kuwait and Iraq.
Griffin is upfront about her politics. She quips that she's so far to the left she wants gun control during gay marriage. But she also says she supports the troops 110 percent, and on tonight's episode she goes about proving just that.
She's accompanied by Michael McDonald ("Mad TV) and Karri Turner ("Jag"). Along the way, none of them loses the ironic edge or eye for comedic details. Griffin riffs on the smells of Kuwait, and McDonald struggles with airsickness while flying a military transport into Tikrit. They maintain a grim sense of humor while driving on Baghdad's notoriously dangerous Airport Road, and Griffin is in her glory while checking into a room located in one of Saddam Hussein's opulent marble palaces.
Griffin never forgets her minor-celebrity status and worries that her routine may fall flat on even a captive audience. But the three performers, who have a history together in Los Angeles' Groundlings Comedy Troupe, provide some hilariously profane improvisations to the wild delight of the soldiers. They clearly don't care about the D-list talent. Some of them declare that it was the first time they had laughed in weeks.
Filled with glib asides like "D All You Can Be," Griffin's show presents a different twist on the traditional USO tour. But the results are the same as any Bob Hope special: easy laughs, more than few tears and a deep appreciation for young people doing the best job they can under dangerous circumstances.
But Griffin also has a point to make about the war and those who can discuss it only in terms of belligerent jingoism. At the beginning of the show, she challenges talk-show conservatives with the taunt: "I'm going to Tikrit next week. How about you?" She walks through a field hospital filled with wounded kids and chats with a bruised soldier who saw his fiancee blown up as they walked to a mess hall. And all he wants to do is return to duty. She gets serious about the reality of the situation. "This is not a Toby Keith song," she comments. This is real.
¢ "Frontline" (8 p.m., PBS, check local listings) presents "The Dark Side," about the political turf wars between George Tenet and his CIA and the offices of Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in the days, weeks and months after Sept. 11, 2001.
Tonight's other highlights
¢ A high-school hostage crisis turns deadly on "NCIS" (7 p.m., CBS).
¢ On back-to-back episodes of "House" (Fox), lies between father and son (7 p.m.), performance-enhancing drugs (8 p.m.).
¢ Auditions continue on "Last Comic Standing" (8 p.m., NBC).
¢ Game six of the NBA finals (8 p.m., ABC).
¢ "Dirty Jobs" (8 p.m., Discovery) returns for a new season. Tonight: those who dismantle parade floats after the festivities conclude.
¢ A slow response to a bus accident earns a reprimand on "Rescue Me" (9 p.m., FX).