Archive for Thursday, November 29, 2007

A night of repeats and factory tours

November 29, 2007

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The end of November sweeps month brings us to the season of repeats. At least half of tonight's prime time series are not original. This would probably be the case even without the Writers Guild of America's strike and the dwindling number of completed episodes.

With television's fantasy factories shuttered by a labor dispute, National Geographic invites viewers to tour automobile manufacturers on back-to-back episodes of "Ultimate Factories."

In the first hour, "Ultimate Factories: BMW" (8 p.m., National Geographic) visits the Bavarian region of Germany, where BMW (Bavarian Motor Works) has been making cars since 1916. We see how car motors are manufactured in Germany and shipped to the company's plant in Spartansburg, S.C., where the company's Z4 sports car is put together.

"Ultimate Factories: Corvette" (9 p.m., National Geographic) tours the Corvette plant in Hopkinsville, Ky., where the car's frame is built and then shipped to Bowling Green, Ky., where the floors, doors, panels and paint are added, as well as the power seats, the dashboard and the classic teardrop rear window. We also visit the Wixom, Mich., plant where each Corvette engine is assembled by hand and carries the name of its engineer. These engines are shipped to Bowling Green, where the workers install each car's power train.

¢ High school sports have inspired two of TV's best series, the fictional "Friday Night Lights" on NBC and Sundance's eight-part documentary "Nimrod Nation."

Every Thursday night through Dec. 27, "Varsity Inc." (10 p.m., ESPN2) will follow the fortunes of the West Monroe, La., High School Rebel football team as well as the town that follows and supports them obsessively.

¢ Flush with her Emmy Award, Kathy Griffin stars in her sixth comedy special "Kathy Griffin: Straight to Hell" (8 p.m., Bravo). The comedienne reflects on her Emmy acceptance speech and its critics and shares some dish about her appearances on "The View" and her encounters with Jane Fonda, Dr. Phil and Paula Abdul, a frequent object of Griffin's derision.

Griffin always walks a fine line. Is she a D-list outsider offering us backstage access to Hollywood's closed kingdom? Or an established court jester who has become part of the show business publicity machine? After this sixth raunchy rundown of the rich and ridiculous, you have to lean toward the latter.

¢ "Biography" (Biography) reaches back to the 1980s pop charts with profiles of Guns n' Roses (8 p.m.) and George Michael (9 p.m.).

Tonight's other highlights

¢ Louisville hosts Rutgers in college football (6:30 p.m., ESPN).

¢ Earl jumps at a chance to lessen his sentence on "My Name is Earl" (7 p.m., NBC).

¢ Chaos rules on "Ugly Betty" (7 p.m., ABC).

¢ Tracy becomes a volunteer coach on "30 Rock" (7:30 p.m., NBC)

¢ Michael shares photos of his Jamaican vacation on "The Office" (8 p.m., NBC)

¢ Death rides a go-cart on "CSI" (8 p.m., CBS)

¢ A producer (Patricia Neal) discovers a charming folk singer (Andy Griffith) and turns him into a media sensation in the prophetic 1957 drama "A Face in the Crowd" (9:15 p.m., TCM).

Cult choice

After a Christmas Eve accident, a glum father (Dana Andrews) moves his wife (Jeanne Crain) and daughter (Mimsy Farmer) to the desert to open a motel, only to battle teenage delinquents on wheels in the over-the-top 1967 drama "Hot Rods to Hell" (2 a.m., TCM). Look out for Mickey Rooney Jr. in a rock band! One of my personal favorites.

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