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Archive for Thursday, May 5, 2011

Emeril makes his prime-time TV return

May 5, 2011

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A notable name joins the ranks of television chefs acting as travel guides. Emeril Lagasse hosts “The Originals” (9:30 p.m., Cooking Channel). The former Food Network star appears on the newer rival network to showcase iconic restaurants in cities all over America. First up, Emeril visits San Francisco, where he samples the menu at the Buena Vista Cafe, the place that introduced Americans to Irish coffee.

Like many cable stars, Emeril came to define and in some ways transcend his old haunt, the Food Network. He was such a celebrity that NBC launched an ill-fated fall 2001 sitcom bearing his name.

There’s no telling whether Emeril will or can recycle his well-known catchphrases, “Bam!” or “Kick it up a notch!” for “The Originals.”

• Minda and Nikki are on a mission. Determined to demonstrate that running a pawnshop is not simply a man’s world, these “Pawn Queens” (9 p.m., TLC) stars run a family-friendly business stocked with jewelry, vintage Barbie dolls and one-of-a-kind antiques.

Every episode focuses on the struggle to keep the Chicago-area business alive as well as the peculiar objects — and people — that cross their threshold.

• A baby in need of an expensive operation and the generosity of family, neighbors and perfect strangers. These elements contribute to heartbreaking and heartwarming stories all over the world. There is probably not a small town or big city in America where a story like this does not seem familiar. And journalists know well how much these tales can attract and expand an audience.

So what happens when a human-interest story like this occurs on a fault line between two embattled populations? “Precious Life” (7:30 p.m., HBO) recounts the efforts by Israeli doctors to save a young girl suffering from an immune deficiency, the same ailment that claimed the lives of two siblings. Only a costly bone-marrow transplant can save her. So first money must be raised and then a donor must be found.

To complicate matters further, the child is a Palestinian, from Gaza, an area now under Hamas control, a tiny patch of land with more than a million inhabitants cut off from all contact with neighboring Israel — except for access to hospital care.

Directed by Israeli journalist Shlomi Eldar, “Life” uses this tremendous human-interest story to shed a spotlight on the plight of those living in Gaza.

Tonight’s other highlights

• Another singer goes home on “American Idol” (7 p.m., Fox).

• Nate Haskell evades capture on “CSI” (8 p.m., CBS).

• Deangelo hints at an “inner circle” of employees on “The Office” (8 p.m., NBC).

• A mute murder suspect raises questions on “Bones” (8 p.m., Fox).

• Liz’s ex-friend (Parker Posey) causes trouble on “Parks and Recreation” (8:30 p.m., NBC).

• A prison guard is murdered outside of a jeweler’s shop on “The Mentalist” (9 p.m., CBS).

• Tracy invades Liz’s summer idyll on “30 Rock” (9 p.m., NBC).

• Jill returns from Australia with a new perspective on “Real Housewives of New York” (9 p.m., Bravo).

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