Archive for Saturday, October 9, 2010

Horse opera tackles tough issues

October 9, 2010

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The made-for-TV drama “After the Fall” (7 p.m. today, Hallmark Movie Channel) grapples with spinal injury, paralysis and confronting life’s limitations as only a Hallmark movie can. Or would. Moments into the movie, set on a dust-free horse farm, equestrian hopeful Jenna (Andrea Bowen, “Desperate Housewives”) is thrown from her horse and left without feeling in her legs. Exit fickle boyfriend, pronto. Into her life comes a sassy girl from the wheelchair therapy sessions and a caring, unwrinkled surgeon (Gail O’Grady) who seems almost as generically perfect and soap-ready as Jenna’s over-protective dad (Greg Evigan). Will Jenna give up on ever walking or riding again? Or will she find inspiration in the handsome cowboy who saved her beloved horse’s life? Gosh darn it, the suspense is killing me.

• Where did that decade go? MTV celebrates a decade of “Jackass” with two specials. “Jackass: The Beginning” (9 p.m. today, MTV) offers history and highlights of the stunt-happy series, and “The Making of Jackass 3-D” (10 p.m.) provides viewers with a glimpse of the new movie, which hopes to give a whole new meaning to the phrase “in your face.”

• “Into the Lost Crystal Caves” (7 p.m. Sunday, National Geographic) invites viewers to visit a place of mystifying beauty and a location that has been described as “hell on earth.” Located 1,000 feet underground beneath a lead mine, the cave was discovered only in 2000. Imagine a chamber as large as a football field two stories tall filled with giant razor-sharp crystals. While most caves are cool, this place can be visited only in special gear to protect people from the broiling temperatures.

The crystals have been formed over millions of years by the onrush of millions of gallons of scalding water heated by nearby volcanic fissures. And wait, there’s more!

In 2009, miners discovered yet another chamber with an equally impressive crystal formation. It may not be Superman’s crystal hideaway, but experts are already calling this one (make that two) of the most remarkable natural marvels ever discovered.

• Over the past three decades or so, Halloween has morphed from a simple kids’ holiday into a chance for adults to act silly and go crazy decorating their homes and offices. Who’s to thank? Or blame? Who knows, but since Martha Stewart has already paid her debt to society, we might as well cast her as the villain. “Tricking and Treating with Martha Stewart” (8 p.m. Sunday, Hallmark) offers exacting advice on turning your home into an entertainment center both tasteful and terrifying at the same time. Whether your tastes run to goblins, ghosts or vampires, the domestic diva has ideas for you. Actor Brendan Fraser joins in on the festivities and waxes nostalgic about his favorite costumes.

• In case you hadn’t noticed, it’s 10/10/10 (Oct. 10, 2010). Celebrate the occasion with a marathon of “Ben 10” (2 p.m. through 6 p.m. Sunday, Cartoon Network) cartoons, followed by two original offerings of “Ben 10: Ultimate Alien” (6 p.m.). “Ben 10” features a young boy who discovers a watchlike item that allows him to shapeshift into alien life forms. Airing on Cartoon Network since 2006, it remains one of the network’s most popular cartoons and has inspired both animated and live-action movies.

• As the fourth season of “Mad Men” (9 p.m. Sunday, AMC) approaches its final episodes, Don Draper’s life has gone to seed. He’s lost his wife, the affection of his daughter, the respect of many co-workers, and his new start-up agency may be going bankrupt. Along the way, he has battled alcoholism and slept with seemingly every possible female co-worker except Peggy and the late Miss Blankenship. Nobody has tried to give his personal past the slip like this creative director, but tonight an old face returns just when Don thinks things couldn’t get any darker.

Fans of the series worried about facing a long winter without new episodes (or looking for a gift for their “Mad Men”-besotted friends) might consider the new book “Mad Men: The Illustrated World” by Dyna Moe (Penguin, 2010). It’s filled with original artwork and cheeky takes on the cocktails, antics and pop culture ephemera of mid-1960s Madison Avenue.

Today’s highlights

• A disturbed passenger (Robert Walker) embroils a tennis star (Farley Granger) in a double murder plot in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1951 mystery “Strangers on a Train” (7 p.m., TCM). Hitchcock cast his daughter as a murder victim.

• An illegal oil rig on Indian land hits pay dirt of a very frightening sort in the 2010 shocker “Monsterwolf” (8 p.m., SyFy).

• Scheduled on “48 Hours Mystery” (9 p.m., CBS): After his wife’s death, a doctor evades an international manhunt.

• Jane Lynch (“Glee”) hosts “Saturday Night Live” (10:30 p.m., NBC), featuring musical guest Bruno Mars.

Sunday’s highlights

• A brooding Swedish detective (Kenneth Branagh) wonders about his future after shooting a suspect in “Wallander: The Man Who Smiled” on “Masterpiece Mystery” (8 p.m., PBS, check local listings), the second of three “Wallander” mysteries.

• Drivers face a frightening precipice on “IRT Deadliest Roads” (8 p.m., History).

• Three agencies cooperate to stop an attack on “Rubicon” (8 p.m., AMC).

• Jimmy’s Chicago sojourn may be extended as a lynching suspect faces rough justice in Atlantic City on “Boardwalk Empire” (8 p.m., HBO). Bootlegger Chalky White (Michael Kenneth Williams) delivers a chilling soliloquy few will forget.

• Dexter hires a nanny to help on the home front on “Dexter” (8 p.m., Showtime).

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