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Archive for Monday, October 27, 2008

Halloween show looks at people’s common fears

October 27, 2008

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The Halloween-history special "Primal Fear" (8 p.m., History) looks at the biological, chemical and psychological forces common to all humans that result in shared impulses and phobias.

Thousands of years of human civilization are merely a blink in evolutionary time, leaving modern humans with roughly the same physiological equipment as our cave-man ancestors. Faced with a bear in the woods, we'd probably react the very same way because of glandular secretions that dictate our "flight or fight" responses.

But just how we get from this moment to complex archetypal phobias and a shared culture of fear is a little trickier. Apparently, all humans fear snakes and sharks and being buried alive. But how did so many disparate cultures develop similar schemes of hell? And why do children across the globe imagine, and fear, some variation on the boogeyman? And how did this all become entertainment? Why do we like to be frightened? As the fears get more complex, "Primal Fear" grows a tad less convincing, piling one generalization upon another.

¢ Speaking of ghosts, "Paranormal State" (9 p.m., A&E) visits Quincy, Ill., where a 26-year-old woman claims to suffer from demonic possession. In addition to claims that she's been beaten, kicked and even submerged in a bathtub by evil forces, she exhibits scratch marks that appear to spell out profane words. Feeling not quite up to the task, the Penn State grad students call upon the help of a local priest to assist in an official exorcism. The power of television compels them.

¢ Other Halloween-themed programming includes "Haunted Homes" (9 p.m., Fine Living), airing nightly through Friday. It will return to its weekly haunt beginning Nov. 7.

¢ With the election just a week and a day away, Bravo invites viewers to indulge in nostalgia for the fictional Bartlet administration, airing a 10-hour "West Wing" marathon (9 a.m. through 7 p.m., Bravo).

Tonight's other highlights

¢ No time for downtime on "Chuck" (7 p.m., NBC).

¢ Tom Bergeron hosts "Dancing with the Stars" (7 p.m., ABC)

¢ Tampa Bay plays at Philadelphia in Game 5 of the World Series (7 p.m., Fox).

¢ Indianapolis hosts Tennessee on "Monday Night Football" (7 p.m., ESPN).

¢ Nathan, Tracy and Peter are in a tight spot on "Heroes" (8 p.m., NBC).

¢ "American Experience" (8 p.m., PBS, check local listings) concludes its profile of Lyndon Johnson.

¢ An assignment in Mexico calls for multitasking on "My Own Worst Enemy" (9 p.m., NBC).

¢ Alan and Denny kick back at a dude ranch on "Boston Legal" (9 p.m., ABC).

¢ An AIDS protester faces a special hurdle on "Raising the Bar" (9 p.m.).

Cult choice

In her final role, Carole Lombard co-stars with Jack Benny as a Polish actor who joins the anti-Nazi resistance in the 1942 comedy "To Be or Not to Be" (7 p.m., TCM). Remade in 1983 starring Mel Brooks and Anne Bancroft, the comedy has recently returned to the Broadway stage.

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