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Archive for Saturday, August 7, 2010

NBC, WWE put viewers in a chokehold for ‘WrestleMania’

August 7, 2010

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Just in case you missed the first XXV, “WWE WrestleMania XXVI” (8 p.m., today, NBC) airs on network television. Television and wrestling go back to the dawn of the TV era and the sport/spectacle has come in and out of too many styles to enumerate. The “competition” takes place at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., the home to the Arizona Cardinals NFL franchise.

Speaking of wrestling on network, “Friday Night Smackdown,” long a programming staple on the UPN (which morphed into half of the CW network) and MyNetwork, is moving to Syfy starting in October. Professional wrestling has done very well on Spike and USA, but the move to Syfy seems a tad puzzling, given that network’s move to attract a bigger female audience by replacing its strictly science-fiction fare with large dollops of fantasy. On the other hand, if the WWE isn’t a fantasy, what is?

• American directors have been remaking South Korean horror movies for some time, much to the disappointment of purists. Films including “The Uninvited” and “The Lake House” all have their origins in Korea. The Sundance Saturday-night series “Asia Extreme” invites viewers to catch cutting edge and offbeat Korean movies in their original language, starting tonight with “Tazza: The High Rollers” (11 p.m., today, Sundance) set in Korea’s gambling demimonde. Asia Extreme concludes Saturday, Sept. 4 with “The Wig.”

• Nearly a full month before Labor Day, professional football returns to the schedule with the Hall of Fame Game (7 p.m., Sunday, NBC) between the Cincinnati Bengals and Dallas Cowboys held in Canton, Ohio. Most players reported to training camp just this week, so look for plenty of substitutions, mistakes and chances for unknowns to make an impression. And look for NBC to dominate the night’s ratings, as they do every time they air NFL games.

• Blending prehistoric re-enactments and cutting-edge genetic science “And Man Created Dog” (8 p.m., Sunday, National Geographic) looks back at more than 100,000 years of human history and the remarkable domestication, breeding and specialization of wolves and their diverse dog descendants. We’re continually reminded of the remarkable fact that every dog alive today — from Husky to Pug — all descend from the same ancestors and are only removed from wolves by a period of 30,000 years, a blink of an eye in evolutionary terms.

Many documentaries have shown how wolves made a good “bet” to cast their lot with people, but “Dog” shows how much dogs have helped human civilization evolve. Without the help of former wolves, man would never have become an efficient shepherd and would never have turned wild creatures into livestock and have always remained a wandering nomadic hunter. So without the assistance of some ancient border collies, humans would never have settled down, created language or culture as we know it. Just that notion alone puts a whole new spin on “Man’s Best Friend.”

• Narrated by Richard Belzer, the documentary “The Uprising” (7 p.m., Sunday, Animal Planet) takes a very different look at the human-animal relationship. Citing seemingly random rampages by elephants, whales and even pigeons, in different parts of the globe, “Uprising” speculates that there could be a worldwide change in behavior by formerly docile creatures.

Today’s highlights

• Side effects spook Joe on “Persons Unknown” (7 p.m., NBC).

• Rachel McAdams stars in the 2005 thriller “Red Eye” (7 p.m., ABC).

• An ice monster threatens remote researchers in the 2010 thriller “Frost Giant” (8 p.m., Syfy). No relation to “Frost/Nixon.” Dean Cain and Lucy Brown (“Primeval”) star.

• Scheduled on “48 Hours Mystery” (9 p.m., CBS): a new murder rattles an already complicated case.

• It’s not the heat, it’s the humility on “Rookie Blue” (9 p.m., ABC).

Sunday’s highlights

• Scheduled on “60 Minutes” (6 p.m., CBS): The high cost of dying; An Orthodox Patriarch chafes under Turkish rule; chef Jose Andres.

• Young people discuss their jobs, from babysitting to developing applications for high-tech gadgets on “Nick News with Linda Ellerbee” (7 p.m., Nickelodeon).

• New insights into Tom’s suicide on “Rubicon” (8 p.m., AMC).

• Sookie feels abandoned and vulnerable on “True Blood” (8 p.m., HBO).

• The competition takes a culinary turn on “Design Star” (9 p.m., HGTV).

• Nick and Dylan have a plan on “The Gates” (9 p.m., ABC).

• Dr. Jill Biden appears (as herself) on “Army Wives” (9 p.m., Lifetime).

• Don returns from Acapulco to an office feud on “Mad Men” (9 p.m., AMC).

• Jessica needs Ray’s help on “Hung” (10 p.m., HBO, TV-MA).

• Ari anticipates a lawsuit on “Entourage” (9:30 p.m., HBO).

• An identity fraud case takes a weird turn on “The Glades” (9 p.m., A&E). Abigail Spencer (“Mad Men”) guest stars.

Cult choice

A theater critic (Bob Hope) has to pan his wife’s (Lucille Ball) play in the 1963 comedy “Critic’s Choice” (1:30 a.m., Monday, TCM). One of 14 consecutive Bob Hope movies to air, starting 5 a.m., Sunday

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