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Archive for Monday, September 10, 2012

Seedy side of London exposed

September 10, 2012

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Encore imports the 2011 U.K. costume drama miniseries “The Crimson Petal and the White” (7p.m., concludes Tuesday). “Downton Abbey,” it is not. Set in Victorian-era London, “Petal” explores the low places frequented by high society.

Married to the mad and fragile Agnes (Amanda Hale), perfume heir and failed writer William Rackham (Chris O’Dowd) takes up with the brilliant and self-taught prostitute Sugar (Romola Garai), a novelist in her own right.

Sugar composes violent fictions about every man who has ever entered her bedchamber. She encourages William to channel his artistic temperament as a businessman, and soon he is successful and wealthy enough to set up Sugar as his exclusive assignation. But Sugar’s subsequent encounters with William’s unfortunate wife and all-but-ignored daughter have powerful implications for all concerned.

Viewers should be warned that the first five to 10 minutes of “Petal” seem more visually dazzling than coherent. One British critic likened them to a “bad laudanum dream.” Beautifully shot and artfully set-designed, “Petal” offers compelling viewing once it gets its bearings. Look for Gillian Anderson as Mrs. Castaway, Sugar’s madam, and Richard E. Grant as Agnes’ less-than-compassionate physician.

l TV’s revolving door ushers out summer shows and welcomes the new. I wouldn’t be entirely honest if I claimed to know what constitutes winning on “Bachelor Pad” (7 p.m., ABC), but somebody’s going to do it on the two-hour season-ender tonight. The spatulas also come to a rest on both “Hell’s Kitchen” (7 p.m., Fox) and “MasterChef” (8 p.m., Fox).

Meanwhile, “The Voice” (7 p.m., NBC) returns with blind auditions and lots of chair-swiveling. CBS offers viewers a half-hour peek on its “CBS Fall Preview” (7:30 p.m.), and NBC showcases two new sitcoms, “The New Normal” (9 p.m.) and “Go On” (9:30 p.m.), before they debut in their regular spots Tuesday night.

Tonight’s other highlights

• Regina’s quickie ceremony causes chaos on “Switched at Birth” (7 p.m., ABC Family).

• Parish’s agenda is exposed on “Alphas” (7 p.m., Syfy).

• DNA links Rusty to the system on “Major Crimes” (8 p.m., TNT).

• A woman racks up debt to buy clothes she can’t even store on the season premiere of “Hoarders” (8 p.m., A&E).

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