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PLEASE STAND BY: The trouble is not with your set . . .
July 20, 2009  | By Diane Werts

It's actually me who's heading into the repair shop for a bit, so I may not be able to update here for a week or two.

In the meantime, try to catch these shows I might otherwise have written more about . . .

Summer Under the Stars (Aug. 1-31 on Turner Classic Movies) -- The fun-with-films channel delivers its annual monthlong festival in which each entire day is devoted to a single classic performer.

Judy_Garland_Summer_Stock.jpgEarly treats include the underappreciated silent-to-sound comedian Marion Davies (Aug. 3) -- the William Randolph Hearst paramour who's actually eons more charming and talented than director Orson Welles would have it in Citizen Kane (as second wife Susan). There's also Judy Garland (Aug. 6), in just about everything except The Wizard of Oz. Peruse all the August pleasures here.

frost nixon pbs.jpgFrost/Nixon: Original Watergate Interviews (PBS, check local listings; in New York, Aug. 3 at 8 p.m. on WLIW/21 and Aug. 4 at 8 p.m. on WNET/13) -- Frank Langella's movie re-creation has nothing on the real U.S. president who resigned in the wake of his cover-up of a "third-rate burglary" by his "plumber" minions. Interviewer David Frost insisted there be no pre-conditions for these unprecedented sit-downs, and he tenaciously bored in toward whatever truth he could extract during two dozen hours of tapings. Frost also hosts to look back at this amazing 1977 TV event. (Video here.)


torchwood coe.jpgTorchwood: Children of Earth (Monday-Friday, July 20-24, 9-10:15 p.m. ET, BBC America; marathon repeat Sunday, July 26, 1-8 p.m. ET) -- In lieu of a third season, series creator Russell T. Davies delivers this drop-dead-entertaining alien-invasion miniseries, which segues from jaw-dropping horror to lip-smacking fun to thought-provoking political drama to bone-chilling urgency. The icky alien that lands this time has taken over the planet's children to convey its creepy messages. And it would like to use them for other things, too. Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) is there to help, but it turns out Jack helped just a little too much back in 1965 to fuel the mess in which the entire planet now finds itself. He and his Torchwood operatives end up on the run, as a complicit government tries to cover up past sins and negotiate its way through what might be an even more horrific new one. (Jack uncorks a mortal sin of his own.) There are secret agents, middlemen, gunplay, deniability, appeasement and the ever-popular "How can we sell it to the voters?" TV doesn't get much more thrilling. Or challenging. Or adult. Or just plain riveting. Doesn't matter if you haven't seen the show before. Doesn't even matter if you hate sci-fi. You. Must. Watch. This. (Preview video here.)

Comic-Con '09 Live (Saturday, July 25, 2-7 p.m. ET, G4) -- Why battle San Diego's throngs of thousands when you can watch from the comfort of your couch? This report on the annual comic/fantasy/sci-fi/movies/TV/video game extravaganza includes exclusive live coverage of the the big Star Wars Spectacular panel. (More at G4's Comic-Con site.)

Secret Lives of Charles Lindbergh (Monday, July 27, at 9 p.m. ET, NatGeo) -- If only they'd had TMZ, In Touch, E! and Twitter way back when. Not to cover Lindbergh's historic first solo flight across the Atlantic. To cover what he did when he got there. Clandestine lovers! Secret families! Lifelong deception! It's an hour of better-late-than-never dirt.

gold diggers 1933.jpgPre-Code Musicals (Wednesday, July 29, starting at 8 p.m. ET, Turner Classic Movies) -- It's probably too much to ask for a screening of Cecil B. De Mille's demented Madam Satan, with the airborne barely-clothed masquerade party and dramatic zeppelin-crash climax. Now that's entertainment. But TCM does its best with another dose of "forbidden" Hollywood wickedness from the early '30s, before the Production Code started cleaning up the screen. Hips, Hips, Hooray (8 p.m.) pairs the comedy team of Wheeler and Woolsey with hottie Thelma Todd of Horse Feathers and Monkey Business. Geometric marvel Busby Berkeley struts his scantily clad choreography with sassy Joan Blondell and Ginger Rogers in Gold Diggers of 1933 (9:15 p.m.), onetime hoofer James Cagney tapping it up in Footlight Parade (11 p.m.), and Bette Davis with William Powell in Fashions of 1934 (1 a.m.). Read up on all the raciness here.



Sarah said:

Just wanted to say TORCHWOOD is my favorite series on TV.

Get well soon!

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