Archive for Thursday, July 28, 2011

A huge problem money can’t fix

July 28, 2011

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The news media have a short attention span. Even a story as dramatic and long-lasting as the 2010 Gulf oil spill has faded from the scene, giving viewers a sense that things have gone back to normal. They haven't. And the two-hour documentary "Black Tide: Voices From the Gulf" (8 p.m., Animal Planet) offers ample proof.

Don't go looking for an indictment or a black-and-white case. "Black Tide" offers overlapping and contradictory takes on events. We hear from Gulf oystermen who have not shucked a single shell since the spill and who face the daunting prospect of shutting down a business that has been in the family for 134 years.

A spokesman for BP argues that the unprecedented nature of the disaster has been matched by a response every bit as ambitious and oversized. He talks of assembling thousands of boats and tens of thousands of workers and coordinating a worldwide effort to stem the spill, not to mention creating a multibillion-dollar fund to make things right for fishermen and other businesses on the Gulf.

But the closer one gets to the details, the more clear it becomes that nobody can write a check big enough to repair the destruction of Louisiana's coasts and waterways, a source for a third of the nation's seafood. We also see that as important as Louisiana's seafood is to its unique culture and to America's food supply, it is dwarfed by the oil and natural gas industry. As industry spokespeople explain, many of the state's fishermen also work for the oil industry. Was this a delicate balance, or a case of having it both ways? One fact remains: An oil spill exceeding 200 million gallons has dire consequences and changes every equation.

• Can "Project Runway" (8 p.m., Lifetime) really be in its ninth season? Familiar faces return, including Heidi Klum, Tim Gunn, Michael Kors and Nina Garcia. But the real stars are the 20 aspiring designers. "Make it work, people."

• Forest Whitaker narrates "Serving Life" (8 p.m., OWN) a look at Louisiana's Angola prison, where the average sentence exceeds 90 years.

• "Titans" (9 p.m., CNBC) profiles Milton S. Hershey, whose relentless pursuit of the perfect confection resulted in the massive corporation that bears his name.

Tonight’s other highlights

• Two go home on "So You Think You Can Dance" (7 p.m., Fox).

• A wayward weapon on "Burn Notice" (8 p.m., USA).

• Jenna wants Liz to rebound on "30 Rock" (8:30 p.m., NBC).

• A driving range becomes a crime scene on "The Mentalist" (9 p.m., CBS).

• Jeremy Irons guest-stars on "Law & Order: SVU" (9 p.m., NBC).

• Lauren Holly guest-stars on "Rookie Blue" (9 p.m., ABC).

• Insider trading intrigue on "Suits" (9 p.m., USA).

• The gang alters history, 15 minutes at a time, on "Futurama" (9 p.m., Comedy Central).

Cult choice

A teen girl (Reese Witherspoon) and her family are terrorized by a jilted and obsessed suitor (Mark Wahlberg) in the 1996 thriller "Fear" (7 p.m., TV Guide), an impressive early outing for two young talents on their way up. The cast also includes William Petersen ("CSI"), Amy Brenneman and Alyssa Milano.

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