“History repeats itself. First as tragedy, second as farce.” Karl Marx said that a long time ago. The tabloid media’s desire to recreate the luminous joy of Princess Diana’s wedding and recall the orgy of emotions emerging from her tragic death have culminated in the wall-to-wall coverage of the next royal wedding. Along the way, we get a by-the-numbers made-for-TV movie “William & Kate” (8 p.m., Lifetime).
Viewers looking for the nuanced inside look at royal life found in “The Queen” or “The King’s Speech” should look elsewhere. “Kate” features a script cut and pasted from well-known headlines. Or at least well known to those who care.
As stories go, it’s unremarkable. Boy meets girl at college while girl is seeing other boy. Boy and girl become friends and then something more. Boy and girl live together and then apart. Boy plays field while trying to make up his mind. Boy realizes what he’s missing. Pops question. End credits roll.
Of course Prince William (Nico Evers-Swindell, “NCIS”) isn’t just any boy. He’s the oldest son of the dead, dazzling Diana and Prince Charles (Ben Cross, “Chariots of Fire”), who is always depicted as barely maintaining a pulse. Enmeshed with the prince’s entourage, the pretty and smart Kate Middleton (Camilla Luddington, “CSI”) feels the slings and arrows of titled snobbery. Mean girls with sceptered pedigrees dismiss her chances of tying the Windsor knot. There are times when William is friendlier to other girls. The locust-like press taunts her as “Waity Katie” when William hesitates about sealing the deal.
Being royal impersonators doesn’t exactly allow these young performers to do much acting. In all honesty, Swindell seems a lot more handsome than the real article. And those who believe in things like magic and fate have to admit that a girl named Camilla Luddington was simply born to play this part.
The drumbeat of royal drivel continues with “Royal Wedding of a Lifetime” (10 p.m., Lifetime) the first of six (!) hour-long documentary specials on Lifetime about the upcoming ceremony.
Not to be outdone “20/20” (9 p.m., ABC) will devote a “special episode” to the event. ABC has promised us 20 hours (!) of royal wedding coverage between now and the big day (April 29) on network, cable, radio and the Internet. It’s like the moon landing, with bridesmaid’s dresses.
• “American Masters” (8 p.m., PBS, check local listings) profiles and celebrates 19th century naturalist John Muir, founder of the Sierra Club and a leader in efforts to preserve the Yosemite Valley as a National Park. Arguably, he did more than any other American to change the way people perceive the relationship between man and nature.
Tonight’s other highlights
• Masters passes his test, and Thirteen returns on “House” (7 p.m., Fox).
• The vice president second-guesses the boss on “The Event” (8 p.m., NBC).
• Bystanders die in a restaurant bloodbath on “The Chicago Code” (8 p.m., Fox).
• Boston’s food and crime lore explored on “Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations” (8 p.m., Travel).