For those who care, a whole May sweeps month has passed us by without a deliciously cheesy network miniseries to mark the occasion. The three-hour thriller "Final Approach" (7 p.m., Eastern, today, Hallmark) will just have to do.
A throwback in so many ways, "Approach" features a cast crowded with past movie and network stars. Dean Cain ("10.5: Apocalypse") plays a fired and disgraced FBI agent married to another federal agent, Lea Thompson ("Jane Doe"). Ernie Hudson ("Ghostbusters") stars as a fellow FBI agent, and Anthony Michael Hall ("Dead Zone") does a good job as a creepy terrorist.
After a belabored buildup that hardly justifies the film's long running time, "Approach" settles into a familiar groove. White-supremacist militia terrorists under the leadership of Hall's character hijack a plane and threaten to blow up a hidden nuclear device unless the government knuckles under to their demands. I told you this was a throwback. How many years and movies has it been since domestic terror showed up in a thriller?
"Final" follows all of the conventions of old-fashioned thrillers dating back to "Airport." It has nothing on such post-9/11 thrillers as "24," but at least Cain's tough-guy character is named Jack.
¢ Speaking of all-star flashbacks, "Recount" (8 p.m., Sunday, HBO) recalls the unprecedented chaos, confusion and hard-knuckled politics and legal maneuvering that followed the Florida voting controversy in the 2000 presidential elections.
"Recount" does a remarkable job of illuminating the actions and motivations of major and minor political players, many of whom remain unknown to the average viewer. It also manages to make a nail-biter out of a story in which everybody knows the ending.
And it's just fun to watch familiar actors playing characters known and unknown. Kevin Spacey stars as Ron Klain, former chief of staff for Al Gore, who tries to galvanize the staff into stiffer resistance to the Republican strategy.
Tom Wilkinson ("Michael Clayton") portrays James Baker III, and he's a joy to watch. John Hurt is Warren Christopher, former secretary of state under Bill Clinton, whose gentle, diplomatic manner irks Klain and his fellow staffer, Michael Whouley (Denis Leary), and proves no match for Baker's maneuvers.
Laura Dern steals the show as the most memorable and derided character of the melodrama. She makes Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris seem almost sympathetic. When the storm arrives, she's an unassuming appointed official overmatched by events and ill-equipped for the political intrigue. And, over time, her overly made-up demeanor simply melts in the media spotlight.
¢ Keira Knightley stars in the 2005 adaptation of "Pride & Prejudice" (7 p.m., Oxygen).
¢ A photo shoot at a dog park challenges the talent on "Groomer Has it" (8 p.m., Animal Planet).
¢ On two episodes of "Cold Case" (CBS), gender confusion (7 p.m.), cold storage (8 p.m.).
¢ Flower's tale unfolds in the movie-length profile of the Whisker clan and its origins, "Meerkat Manor: The Story Begins" (7 p.m., Animal Planet).