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Primal Scream

Primal Screen: Things to watch (or avoid) before killing your TV

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Up All Night


Given that The Odd Couple already covered this premise, and much better, I don’t know who will tune in. Or whom.

Prime Suspect (9pm Thu, NBC)

Maria Bello will probably grow tired of being compared to Helen Mirren in this new American remake of the beloved British crime series. But you can’t help it: Mirren gave an unforgettable performance as homicide detective Jane Tennison, while Bello is eminently forgettable as the new Jane, who deals with cartoonish sexism from colleagues on the Manhattan force. Bellow lacks Mirren’s gravitas, flashing a 100-watt smile that seems more appropriate for a sitcom than a gritty drama. Her jaunty fedora doesn’t help, nor does her constant gum chewing.

I hate to say it, but I think Helen Mirren could even chew gum better than that.

Prohibition (8pm Sun-Tue, PBS)

Documentarian Ken Burns has found another big subject that allows him to zoom in and out of black-and-white photographs from his favorite era, the 19th and early 20th centuries. Prohibition displays all the Burns affections we’ve come to know from The Civil War, Jazz, and Baseball: the melancholy music played on old-timey instruments, the earnest narration, and the overly detailed approach that finally wears you out. But I guess you can’t really blame Ken Burns for making a Ken Burns documentary.

Prohibition is an ambitious work that attempts nothing less than a history of American alcohol consumption. Burns starts in the early 1800s, when easily available whiskey turned a nation of drinkers into a nation of problem drinkers. On his way to 1920s Prohibition, he explains dissolute saloon culture and the sometimes over-the-top attempts to curb it. We hear of such colorful reformers as Carrie Nation, whose unsubtle approach to temperance involved busting up saloons with a hatchet. Her motto: “Smash, smash, smash.”

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