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Archive for Thursday, August 18, 2011

Scrapyard alchemy on the Science Channel

August 18, 2011

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TV’s scrap heap chic continues. Folks appear on “JUNKies” (9 p.m., Science) to consult salvage “genius” Jimmy Ruocco in Freeport, N.Y., and find the missing parts to their mad inventions.

In the debut, a welding artist and his free spirit sidekick come in search of a key ingredient to their backyard centrifuge.

Over the course of the season, folks will consult the gruff, thickly accented Jimmy to complete their visions of coffin cars, racing lawn mowers and flamethrowers. And eccentric types will try to sell Jimmy their treasures, many of them worthless, the product of picking up things that should have been left in the trash.

‘‘Stuck With Hackett” (9:30 p.m., Science) features eccentric artist, self-taught engineer and survivalist Chris Hackett. An odd mixture of MacGyver and Anthony Bourdain, Hackett cobbles together the most amazing devices out of seemingly unsalvageable materials. He also ruminates in a peculiar, nearly punk fashion that makes him slightly inscrutable and highly entertaining.

In each episode, he’s stranded in some desolate situation straight out of “The Road Warrior” and forced to improvise. In tonight’s offering, he’s left in an abandoned rail yard, where he builds his own locomotive. And that’s basically the easy part. First he must create his own fuel!

• “Titans” (9 p.m., CNBC) profiles Barry Diller, whose resume reads like the history of movies, television and media over the past five decades. Joining ABC television in the 1960s, he was instrumental in developing that network’s TV movie franchise, “The Movie of the Week.” Diller’s tenure at Paramount saw the production of “Saturday Night Fever,” ‘‘Raiders of the Lost Ark” and “Beverly Hills Cop.” Under his leadership, Paramount’s TV division also created “Laverne & Shirley,” ‘‘Taxi” and “Cheers.”

While at Paramount, Diller’s proteges included Michael Eisner and Jeffrey Katzenberg, who would revive Disney in the 1980s. Katzenberg would co-found Dreamworks in the 1990s.

Diller was instrumental in creating the Fox Network in the 1980s and acquiring “The Simpsons.” In the past two decades Diller has run QVC and any number of Internet media. The very definition of a mogul, Diller has warned against increasing corporate consolidation of the entertainment industry, arguing that an oligopoly presents a threat to innovation and ideas.

Tonight’s Other Highlights

• The Pittsburgh Steelers host the Philadelphia Eagles in an NFL preseason game (8 p.m., Fox).

• A freelance job for Big Pharma proves problematic on “Burn Notice” (8 p.m., USA).

• Nina looms large on “Project Runway” (8 p.m., Lifetime).

• An undefeated lawyer with too much to prove on “Suits” (9 p.m., USA.

• Mike’s secret liaison revealed on “Jersey Shore” (9 p.m., MTV).

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