On a weekend awash with documentary commemorations, USA takes a stab at an original movie with a 9/11 theme. The network gets at least one point for trying. Oscar winner Melissa Leo (“The Fighter”) stars in “The Space Between” (8 p.m.). She plays Montine, a troubled, hard-drinking, cranky flight attendant who finds herself saddled with Omar Hassan (Anthony Keyvan), a precocious 10-year-old Pakistani boy.
Both were on a Los Angeles-bound flight when the towers fell and all airline traffic was grounded. In a rather contrived setup that takes too much time to explain, Montine feels compelled to drive the boy back to New York to find his father, who worked in the World Trade Center.
After the towers fell, some of us asked, “Will we ever laugh again?” Well, I found myself occasionally snickering at the earnestness of “The Space Between.” It’s a little like “Trains, Planes and Automobiles” set on 9/11. Now, that’s audacious. It’s fun to watch Leo downing airliner bottles of vodka and telling off clueless guys and random racists, but we all know that meaningful lessons and hugs are just around the corner.
• As we’ve come to learn over 10 years, 9/11 has come to resemble its own religion, complete with heroes and villains, martyrs and saints, sacred sites, relics and shrines. And above all, a special day of remembrance.
The parade of documentaries and specials airing this week and weekend remind me of the Stations of the Cross in a Roman Catholic church. You don’t watch these programs because you are unfamiliar with the narrative. You know the story. You watch them (if you do) out of a sense of respect and devotion. They’ve become the very definition of “ritual.”
Programs about 9/11
• “The Concert for New York City: 10 Years Later” (3 p.m., VH1).
• “60 Minutes” (6 p.m., CBS) recalls 9/11.
• Robert De Niro hosts “9/11: 10 Years Later” (7 p.m., CBS).
• “America Remembers 9/11” (7 p.m., PBS, check local listings).
• “When Pop Culture Saved America: A 9/11 Story” (7 p.m., Bio).
• “Making the 9/11 Memorial” (7 p.m., History).
• “Beyond Bravery: The Women of 9/11” (8 p.m., CNN).
• Surviving twins who lost a sibling on 9/11 are featured on “Twins of the Twin Towers” (8 p.m., OWN).
• “Rebirth” (8 p.m., Showtime) profiles five whose lives were changed by the terror attacks.
• “20/20 Presents Remembrance and Renewal: 10 Years After the 9/11 Attacks” (9 p.m., ABC).
• “Twin Towers” (9:30 p.m., USA) recalls two brothers — a firefighter and a policeman.
Tonight’s other highlights
• The New York Jets host the Dallas Cowboys on “Sunday Night Football” (7:15 p.m., NBC).
• Michael J. Fox is on the receiving end of Larry’s attitude on “Curb Your Enthusiasm” (9 p.m., HBO).
• Vince makes a romantic commitment on “Entourage” (9:30 p.m., HBO).