Stars best known for sitcom work take on a deadly serious topic with decidedly mixed results. Courteney Cox (“Cougar Town”) directs and stars in “Talhotblond” (8 p.m. Saturday, Lifetime), a harrowing tale of Internet deception that leads to obsession and murder.
Garret Dillahunt stars as a dutiful blue-collar husband, Thomas Montgomery, first seen cutting steel tubes at a factory. He’s the breadwinner, dinner-maker and the one who drives his kids to swim meets and practice. His loving wife, Carol (Laura San Giacomo), means well, but her working routine takes its toll as well. They live in a modest house and share a sex life best described as grim.
Is it any wonder that the introduction of online gambling and sexually charged anonymous chats makes Thomas’ head explode with unrealized desire? The film opens with his last desperate act and proceeds in flashback through his descent into Internet addiction.
Like many movies of this ilk — and practically everything on television — “Talhotblond” has a difficult time offering a nuanced view of working-class life. It doesn’t help that Dillahunt is best known for his role as the dithering underemployed dad on the Fox sitcom “Raising Hope.” Watching him joylessly toil behind a power saw or seethe at unpaid bills and unmet expectations, I was always waiting for this tragedy to erupt into farce.
• A real-life catastrophe unfolds in “Ivory Wars” (7 p.m. Saturday, Discovery), examining the growth in illegal poaching that threatens Africa’s elephants. A 23-year ban on ivory sales remains in place, but demand for tusks has never been higher, fueled by the growing affluence of the Far East. One area of northern Kenya has lost a quarter of all of its elephants in just the past three years.
Saturday’s other highlights
• U.S. Olympic Team track and field trials (7 p.m., NBC).
• An Oregon couple spend their honeymoon helping others on “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” (7 p.m., ABC).
• “Big Baboon House” (7 p.m., Nat Geo Wild) offers a social experiment and exploration of primate pecking orders.
• A gangster’s offer is hard to refuse on “The Firm” (9 p.m., NBC).
Students of “Mad Men”-era mores should not miss the 1964 comedy “Sex and the Single Girl” (9 p.m. Saturday, TCM), with Tony Curtis, Natalie Wood, Henry Fonda, Lauren Bacall and Mel Ferrer.