Archive for Monday, February 21, 2011

Tune In: Lifetime retells the saga of Amanda Knox

February 21, 2011

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Lifetime returns to its “woman-in-peril” roots. And not a moment too soon. Not content to air the ripped-from-the-headlines TV movie “Amanda Knox: Murder on Trial In Italy” (8 p.m., Lifetime), the cable network will follow the film with “Beyond the Headlines: Amanda Knox” (10 p.m., Lifetime), featuring interviews with Knox’s parents as well as prosecutors and legal scholars who discuss what it’s like to be locked up abroad.

Hayden Panettiere (“Heroes”) stars in the title role as a young American girl spending a year studying in the picturesque Italian city of Perugia. Flashbacks to her native Seattle reveal a perky young woman, a coffee shop barista and a bit of a jock. Upon arriving in Italy, Knox found a room in a house filled with young people. All was idyllic until the morning her English roommate Meredith Kercher (Amanda Fernando Stevens) was found murdered.

Suspicion falls on any number of neighbors and acquaintances, including Knox and her boyfriend. From here on the movie sifts through the evidence from the police detective’s perspective and includes a rather grim interrogation scene and a lengthy trial. Knox’s mother (Marcia Gay Harden) arrives to swoop her up and return her to Washington, only to spend harrowing months and years fighting for Knox’s freedom in a justice system she only dimly understands.

As a Lifetime movie, “Knox” puts most emphasis on Amanda’s ordeal. Imagine having all of your personality traits and faults exaggerated by prosecutors and the press. Suddenly an ordinary American girl is portrayed as a narcissist, a liar, a sociopath and a killer. The film does not make enough of the media circus in both Italy and the victim’s native England, at the heart of the trial. The film never uses the Italian tabloid name for Knox, “Luciferina.”

Vulgar television and over-the-top tabloid media is a kind of cultural cancer in Italy, where the biggest media baron is also the country’s president.

• “Outrageous Kid Parties” (8:30 p.m., TLC) puts the spotlight on parents who overdo it for the underage set.

• “World’s Deadliest Towns” (7 p.m., Animal Planet) takes a three-hour look at African and Indian villages, where people are frequently attacked and eaten by neighboring wild life.

• “Blue Collar Dogs” (7 p.m., National Geographic Wild) puts the spotlight on drug-sniffing canines, dogs that help find people buried in rubble and dogs that can even catch the scent of cancers in some patients.

• Chris Matthews examines one president’s post-White House career on “President of the World: The Bill Clinton Phenomenon” (9 p.m., MSNBC).

Tonight’s other highlights

• A trip to the principal’s office on “House” (7 p.m., Fox).

• Graft abounds “The Chicago Code” (8 p.m., Fox).

• A bomber on the loose on “Hawaii Five-O” (9 p.m., CBS).

• Gang mediation on “Harry’s Law” (9 p.m., NBC).

• A cab driver’s murder on “Castle” (9 p.m., ABC).

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