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Archive for Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Ants compete with ‘Dancing,’ ‘Idol’

May 20, 2008

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Some men reach for the stars, while others stare at the ants on the ground. That observation helped turn E.O. Wilson into one of the most esteemed writers, scientists and naturalists of this or any era. The "Nova" (7 p.m., PBS, check local listings) profile "The Ant Man" is narrated by Harrison Ford.

Now 78, Wilson claims he's still the same "boy" who spent his "savage years" deep in the Alabama woods studying nature. A boyhood fishing accident cost him his sight in one eye, and helped propel him toward the study of tiny creatures he could examine with a microscope through his one remaining eye.

Wilson's fascination with bugs led him to study possible genetic reasons behind their behavior and highly structured societies. His 1975 work "Sociobiology," which argued that evolution could explain social behavior in insects, and possibly even in humans, sparked wide controversy.

In more recent decades, Wilson has been widely praised for his public crusade to raise awareness of the threats to the diversity of life on Earth. Naturalist and filmmaker David Attenborough says Wilson will "go down in history for opening the world's eyes to biodiversity." Not bad for an Alabama boy obsessed with bugs.

¢ After waiting a lifetime to climb the world's highest summit, mountaineer Lincoln Hall suffered a brain trauma. Abandoned by his sherpa, who thought he was dead, Hall was found the next day and lived to tell his tale in "Left for Dead: Miracle on Everest" (8 p.m., National Geographic).

Season finales

¢ The hunt for a killer takes its toll on a two-hour "NCIS" (7 p.m., CBS).

¢ A winner emerges on "Dancing with the Stars" (8 p.m., ABC). A repeat (7 p.m.) of last night's dances precedes this two-hour results show.

¢ The rebel demons set a trap for Sam on "Reaper" (8 p.m., CW).

Tonight's other highlights

¢ The top two sing to survive on "American Idol" (7 p.m., Fox).

¢ A random click of the "send" button turns a student's (Kay Panabaker) private diary into a bestseller in the 2006 cable comedy "Read It and Weep" (7 p.m., Disney).

¢ A dedicated slacker moves in with an energetic Californian in the British situation-comedy "Not Going Out" (7:40 p.m., BBC America).

¢ A jellyfish plague crowds out the crab traps on "Deadliest Catch" (8 p.m., Discovery).

¢ The repeat "Frontline" (8 p.m., PBS, check local listings) presentation, "Growing Up Online," meditates on the radical changes in youth culture, education and family life since the advent of the Internet in the mid-1990s.

¢ Zealots train children as young as age 7 to become soldiers in a cultural war in the 2006 documentary "Jesus Camp" (8 p.m., Biography).

¢ An escaped con plots against Sebastian on "Shark" (9 p.m., CBS). (CBS recently announced that the series has been canceled.)

Cult choice

A wheelchair-bound photographer (Jimmy Stewart) thinks he's witnessed a murder in the 1954 Alfred Hitchcock drama "Rear Window" (7 p.m., TCM), a treat if watched for the first or the 40th time.

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