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Archive for Monday, October 11, 2010

Miniseries examines terrorist Carlos the Jackal’s motives

October 11, 2010

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When they launched “Rubicon,” AMC promised a 1970s-style paranoid thriller. Some of us are still waiting. Viewers in search of a bloody, action-packed thriller set in the ’70s and ’80s shouldn’t miss the three-night miniseries “Carlos” (8 p.m., Sundance, nightly through Wednesday), based on the true story of Carlos the Jackal, who lived two decades as the most wanted terrorist in the world.

Edgar Ramirez (“The Bourne Ultimatum”) stars in the title role. Depicted here, he’s not a one-dimensional monster, but an ideologue, driven not by religion but by an abiding faith in radical Marxist Leninism during its waning days. He can be cold and calculating, brooding and sexy, even vulnerable as he cuts a swath of terror from London to Paris and around the world in support of the Palestinian cause.

A co-production of Sundance and France’s Canal Plus studio, this is the network’s first original series. And it’s a great one.

• If you’re looking to create a big-picture documentary, there are probably no more loaded words than “God” and “America.” “God in America” (8 p.m., PBS, check local listings) uses both, and that points to the six-hour series’ strengths and weaknesses.

“God” explores the unique place of faith in our nation’s history and in Americans’ perception of themselves as a people set apart in a New World, and surveys the struggle to balance faith, liberty and tolerance for different beliefs or even nonbelief from the time of the New England puritans to the TV-driven politics of the Moral Majority.

This is a tall order, and a beautifully photographed, well-researched special provides a large enough canvas to cover a lot of ground. But this viewer can’t help but think that a more tightly focused film on a specific event or movement might have been more rewarding.

• Jane Kaczmarek and Kim Dickens star as sisters raising a teen daughter in the adaptation of the young adult book “Reviving Ophelia” (8 p.m., Lifetime).

Tonight’s other highlights

• Things fall apart and need fixing in the special “Handy Manny Big Construction Job” (6 p.m., Disney).

• The Jets host the Vikings on “Monday Night Football” (7:15 p.m., ESPN).

• The Braves host the Giants in game 4 of the National League Division Series (7:30 p.m., TBS).

• A patient’s identity is revealed on “House” (7 p.m., Fox).

• Hal Holbrook guest stars on “The Event” (8 p.m., NBC).

• A mob threatens an accused man on “Lie to Me” (8 p.m., Fox).

• “Cake Boss” (8 p.m., TLC) enters season 3 with a family trip to Italy.

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