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Archive for Friday, August 26, 2011

Got rodents? Who ya gonna call?

August 26, 2011

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People have long considered New York City to be a zoo. Now Animal Planet dedicates its Friday nights to New Yorkers. Last week, it introduced “Tanked” (7 p.m., and 8 p.m.) about two transplanted New Yorkers who design massive aquariums in Las Vegas. Tonight brings us “Rat Busters NYC” (9 p.m.), concerning two Gotham guys who never left the city and have dedicated their professional lives to battling its vermin.

‘‘Rat Busters” stars Jimmy Tallman and Michael Morales, the Brooklyn born-and-bred operators of Magic Exterminating. Jimmy is older and a tad gruff, while Michael exudes empathy for their clients, some of whom are eccentric to say the least. We first encounter a Brooklyn “musician,” or composer-wannabe, reporting a bed bug infestation. When the guys find scant evidence of the crawling critters, they consult a colleague whose expertise on bed bug eradication has inspired a book that has earned him an appearance on “Good Morning America.” (They later celebrate his moment of morning show celebrity with a red velvet cake baked in the shape of a bed bug. But I digress.) The author convinces them that their client is actually suffering from a case of media delusion. He’s seen so many local news stories on bed bugs that he believes he’s suffering too, even when he’s not.

Their other customers’ problems are all too real. South Bronx native Tishia has just purchased a convenience store. The former owner skipped town before cleaning out the (very spooky) basement, and it has become home to at least 50 rats. Tishia’s laissez-faire attitude toward cleanliness suggests she may not be cut out for the food business, but never mind.

The boys go after the rodents like commandos. Or comic killers out of a Quentin Tarantino movie. After watching them dispatch rats with equal parts black humor and zeal, you almost forget this is Animal Planet, a network once sympathetic to the critter. Now, it’s a haven for New Yorkers with attitude, who have jobs to do and a customer base that’s not necessarily sane.

• Speaking of cinematic homicide, “Dateline” (8 p.m., NBC) spends two hours on a missing-persons case involving a woman who vanished on the ominously named Blood Mountain in the Chattahoochee National Forest. The story gets weirder when police apprehend a man bent on living out a plot from a horror movie.

Tonight’s other highlights

Note: Listings may be affected by local coverage of baseball or preseason NFL games.

• On two episodes of “Friends With Benefits” (NBC): Mardi Gras madness (7 p.m.), connections in the film trade (7:30 p.m.).

• Featuring unforgettable performances by Robert De Niro and Jodie Foster, the 1976 drama “Taxi Driver” (7 p.m., IFC) also featured oddly compelling roles for Albert Brooks and Cybill Shepherd.

• A mysterious drowning in a town on edge on “Haven” (9 p.m., Syfy).

• Jack encounters a foe considered long dead on “Torchwood: Miracle Day” (9 p.m., Starz).

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