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Archive for Monday, August 1, 2011

‘Moby Dick’ assumes viewer hasn’t read book

August 1, 2011

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Some books you just have to read. Like F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby,” Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick” has suffered any number of unsatisfying screen adaptations. A book so filled with strange ruminations and poetry just doesn’t hold up when boiled down for action.

Encore’s two-night “Moby Dick” miniseries (7 p.m., concludes Tuesday) tries to domesticate Captain Ahab (John Hurt), supplying him with a wife (Gillian Anderson) and a precocious son. Look for Ethan Hawke as Starbuck. The always intense Eddie Marsan (“Little Dorrit,” “Happy-Go- Lucky”) plays Stubb, and Raoul Trujillo (“Apocalypto”) is the mystical Queequeg. Charlie Cox plays the novel’s narrator, and when you hear him casually say, “Call me Ishmael” to Pip (Daniyah Ysrayl) in an opening scene, you know this miniseries is not off to a promising start.

• Ashley makes her big decision as “The Bachelorette” (7 p.m., ABC) concludes in Fiji, of all places. For those with short memories, an “After the Final Rose” (9 p.m.) recap will look back at a “journey” that included some kind of fight between Ashley and her sister and came down to a choice between men called Ben F. and J.P.

• A film about an Islamic variation on a national spelling bee, “Koran by Heart” (8 p.m., HBO) documents an annual contest involving more than 100 young scholars from more than 70 countries. Filmmaker Greg Barker follows three 10-year-old contestants who have dedicated their lives to memorizing and reciting the Koran. The young people offer viewers a glance at a wide spectrum of Islamic societies, from modern and secular to austerely fundamental.

• “This Illegal American Life” (8 p.m., Current) looks at the uncertainties facing undocumented young people, from UCLA undergraduates to migrant workers.

Tonight’s other highlights

• The 2004 documentary “Nine Innings From Ground Zero” (5:45 p.m., HBO) looks at the role baseball played in soothing a wounded city after the 2001 terrorist attacks.

• A baker’s dozen return to “Hell’s Kitchen” (7 p.m., Fox).

• Up in the air on “Eureka” (7 p.m., Syfy).

• “The Godfather” (7 p.m., AMC) kicks off a week of mob-related movies on AMC. Former New York Mayor (and mob-busting federal prosecutor) Rudolph Giuliani hosts.

• A lawsuit sparks homicides on “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” (8 p.m., NBC).

• Eight compete on “MasterChef” (8 p.m., Fox).

• Kathy Ireland serves as guest judge on “Design Star” (8 p.m., HGTV).

• Jeri Ryan guest-stars on “Warehouse 13” (8 p.m., Syfy).

• The search for a missing boy on “The Closer” (8 p.m., TNT).

• “Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations” (8 p.m., Travel) explores the cuisine of Spain.

• Discovery’s Shark Week continues with originals “Rogue Shark” (8 p.m.) and “Summer of the Shark” (9 p.m.).

• A Rosetta Stone on “Alphas” (9 p.m., Syfy).

• “Unsung” (9 p.m., TV One) profiles The Sylvers.

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