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Archive for Monday, August 3, 2009

Split-up Jon & Kate return to TLC tonight

August 3, 2009

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They’re back! Fewer than two months after the nonsurprise of their break-up, the stars of “Jon & Kate Plus 8” (8 p.m., TLC) return.

The awkward split provided fodder for a tsunami of tabloid frenzy, a media phenomenon interrupted only briefly for the maudlin over-coverage of Michael Jackson’s death.

The pre-hiatus episode of “Jon & Kate” was watched by roughly 10 million viewers, a gargantuan audience for a basic cable show that began its life on the Discovery Health Channel. Heck, it’s a huge audience for any show featuring a plug for crooked houses and the sight of two uninteresting people offering grim monologues while sitting next to a giant pillow.

And tonight’s awkward “reunion” may generate another sizable demographic of emotional rubberneckers.

But you have to wonder about the long-term interest in the series. “Jon & Kate” used to offer a dependable fix for cuteness junkies, an audience for whom the sight of six toddlers attacking a birthday cake provided a vicarious sugar rush.

Will the same folks who loved the show when it was a convention of Hummel figurines or a Thomas Kinkade painting come to life stick around now that we’ve moved from lollipops and love to lawyers and loathing?

• The word “heartbreaking” doesn’t do justice to the documentary “Boy Interrupted” (8 p.m., HBO). After their 15-year-old son Evan committed suicide in 2005, married filmmakers Dana and Hart Perry began to look for solace and for answers. “Boy” presents a collection of interviews and intimate home videos of Evan, who began to show signs of mental illness at a very early age.

The film demonstrates how even the most innocuous home movie can provide some insight in a tragic context, and it makes you wonder how the nature of biography has changed in a world where virtually every moment can be documented. But it also challenges the audience to accompany the grieving parents on a very private voyage, an invitation many viewers may simply decline.

Tonight’s other highlights

• “Sugarland: Live on the Inside” (7 p.m., ABC) presents a concert from Lexington, Ky.

• The legacy of an Airstream caravan on “History Detectives” (8 p.m., PBS, check local listings).

• A father’s testimony comes under scrutiny on “The Closer” (8 p.m., TNT).

Cult choice

A fallen missionary (Hilary Swank) helps a backwoods town withstand 10 biblical plagues in the 2007 shocker “The Reaping” (7:15 p.m., Cinemax). While Swank escaped critical wrath, the film received gruesome reviews.

Series notes

Familiarity inspires anecdotes on “How I Met Your Mother” (7 p.m., CBS) ... Families beat the desert heat on “Great American Road Trip” (7 p.m., NBC) ... A patient puts her faith in a fortune-telling cat on “House” (7 p.m., Fox) ... Julian asks Brooke to make a major move on “One Tree Hill” (7 p.m., CW) ... Too many couples on “Rules of Engagement” (7:30 p.m., CBS) ... A delicate eviction on “Two and a Half Men” (8 p.m., CBS) ... A killer follows a political agenda on “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” (8 p.m., NBC) ... Lightman uncovers a construction cover-up on “Lie to Me” (8 p.m., Fox) ... Out of sight and out of their minds on two hours of “Dating in the Dark” (8 p.m., ABC) ... Sixteen sleazy candles on “Gossip Girl” (9 p.m., CW) ... Sheldon goes behind the wheel on “The Big Bang Theory” (8:30 p.m., CBS) ... Pirates strike on “CSI: Miami” (9 p.m., CBS).

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