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Archive for Wednesday, January 30, 2008

PBS show ventures to end of the world

January 30, 2008

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National Geographic and PBS invite viewers and their big-screen televisions to "Eden at the End of the World" (7 p.m., PBS, check local listings), an old-fashioned nature special about Patagonia.

Located at the very tip of South America, Patagonia has been long protected from the ecological ravages of human habitation by its remote location and daunting climate. Sadly, man and his billions of discarded plastic bags have besieged even this refuge at the bottom of the globe. Migration patterns have been disturbed by miles of barbed-wire fences and by the introduction of massive herds of sheep that tear up the delicate grasslands and leave vast deserts in their wake.

Like most "National Geographic" specials, "Eden" includes scenes of the peculiar activities of exotic critters. Maybe it's the writers' strike, but some of the mating rituals reminded me of other TV shows. Male Magellanic penguins hang out for six months waiting for their mates to return from the sea. They bide their time burrowing nests and making them bigger, cleaner and more attractive to females. They are a race of furious interior decorators worthy of HGTV!

Narrated by Jeremy Irons, "Eden" showcases many other creatures unique to Patagonia and champions the work of foundations working to prevent the region and its ecosystem from vanishing forever.

¢ "Lost: Through the Looking Glass" (8 p.m., ABC) offers viewers a chance to watch the season-three finale again and catch up with the action, the flashbacks and most intriguing of all - the flash-forwards. A new season of "Lost" begins tomorrow night.

¢ Don't go looking for "Power of Ten." The low-rated game show has been yanked from the schedule, to be replaced tonight with two repeats of "The New Adventures of Old Christine" (7 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., CBS).

¢ Am I the only one generally unimpressed by this season of "American Idol" (7 p.m., Fox)? I've yet to see a talent who really knocks me out. And the parade of untalented exhibitionists has a "been-there, done-that" quality about it. Simon Cowell appears to have ingested happy pills and has refrained from abject cruelty. Even Paula Abdul appears to be making sense. Is that why I'm bored?

But, even on his best behavior, Cowell can be odd. Last week, a contestant and her sister confessed to be gushing fans and handed him a note saying he was a person they wanted to meet, along with "Oprah and Obama." When Cowell read the note, he pronounced the presidential candidate's name in a way that betrayed complete unfamiliarity. Talk about living in a bubble. He also seemed to be under the impression that South Carolina was on America's West Coast. Or perhaps he was joking.

It's interesting that a judge of American talent should be so contemptuously ignorant of the American scene. Or why Americans seem so eager to be treated like dim colonists by foreign-born arbiters of taste.

Tonight's other highlights

¢ "Impossible Escapes" (8 p.m., MyNetwork) demystifies the tricks of magicians and escape artists.

¢ Can an airplane take off on a conveyor belt? Find out on "Mythbusters" (8 p.m., Discovery).

¢ The first episode of "The Moment of Truth" (8 p.m., Fox) was even dumber and sleazier than the reel sent out for review. Viewers should take a shower after dealing with this garbage.

¢ Evidence found in the Statue of Liberty leads to a vigilante killer on "CSI: NY" (9 p.m., CBS).

¢ A triple homicide appears linked to a romance gone awry on "Law & Order" (9 p.m., NBC).

¢ The team on "Smash Lab" (9 p.m., Discovery) wonders whether train-wreck fatalities could be avoided with giant airbags.

Cult choice

James Cagney portrays a Coca-Cola executive in Berlin who tries to keep the boss' daughter from marrying a communist in director Billy Wilder's 1961 comedy "One, Two, Three" (8:30 p.m., TCM).

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