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Archive for Monday, May 3, 2010

PBS examines death of MLK, his assassin

May 3, 2010

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For reasons as cruel as history, slain leaders are always linked with their murderers. John Wilkes Booth hardly deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Abraham Lincoln, but their stories and fates are intertwined. “American Experience” (8 p.m., PBS, check local listings) recalls another fateful tandem in “Roads to Memphis” a powerful recounting of the separate-but-linked paths of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his convicted killer, James Earl Ray.

King’s story is well known as it has been well-documented, and there is no shortage of film and TV footage, both rare and familiar, of the civil rights leader. The loner Ray is more difficult to evoke on screen. But this visual deficiency inspires a stark, minimalist and almost poetic use of still photographs and various props. We’re shown the transistor radio Ray carried with him, hoping to hear of his criminal exploits and the coast-to-coast broadcast of the news that he had become the most hunted man in the world.

Other experts, law enforcement officers, authors, journalists and colleagues appear as well, including Dan Rather, Gerald Posner, Andrew Young and civil rights veteran Benjamin Hooks, who died April 15.

• John Goodman (“Treme”) narrates “Best Food Ever” (8 p.m., TLC), a new six-part series in search of the best eateries in America and their signature dishes. Tonight’s premiere puts the focus on sandwiches, from New Jersey to Chicago to Austin, Texas.

• “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” (9 p.m., Bravo) enters a new season. In the opening moments, one “housewife” demonstrates the art of making and canning homemade tomato sauce to her daughter. It’s the sole depiction of genuine human behavior in the entire contrived hour of shopping and fake fighting.

Tonight’s other highlights

• Fred Willard and Swoosie Kurtz guest star as mentors for Chuck and Sarah on “Chuck” (7 p.m., NBC).

• A reluctant groom’s many secrets cause complications on “House” (7 p.m., Fox).

• Phoenix displays its treasures on “Antiques Roadshow” (7 p.m., PBS, check local listings).

• Vengeance consumes Jack on “24” (8 p.m., Fox).

• A trip to Pennsylvania inspires a friendly wager on “American Pickers” (8 p.m., History).

• Dolly Parton guest stars on the landscaping series “King of Dirt” (8 p.m., DIY).

• Rocco Dispirito guest stars on “Castle” (9 p.m., ABC).

• A motorcycle mishap sends Dean to the hospital on “Tori & Dean: Home Sweet Hollywood” (9 p.m., Bravo).

Cult choice

Two headstrong women (Mary Astor and Bette Davis) chase the same man in the 1941 melodrama “The Great Lie” (5 p.m., TCM).

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