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The Week’s guide to what’s worth watching
Plus, Other highlights; Show of the week; Movies on TV this week
 

Raising the Bar
Those who fondly recall L.A. Law will find similarities in this new series from the same producer, Steven Bochco. It follows the lives and cases of young lawyers who have been friends since law school but who now work on opposing sides: public defenders versus the district attorney’s office. Mark-Paul Gosselaar (NYPD Blue), Gloria Reuben (ER), and Jane Kaczmarek (Malcolm in the Middle) lead the ensemble of this watchable if rather old-fashioned legal melodrama. Monday, Sept. 1, at 10 p.m., TNT

Stuff Happens
Emmy winner Bill Nye “the Science Guy” hosts this new series that looks at everyday products: how they’re made, how they work, and how they affect the environment. The debut episode starts with bathroom items, investigating everything from how toothpaste affects orangutans in Borneo to whether old prescription drugs flushed down toilets are breeding “super bugs” in water systems. Tuesday, Sept. 2, at 9 p.m., Planet Green

Explorer: Moment of Death
The definition of death has changed in recent decades, from a stopped heart to a stopped brain—but now neurologists are studying whether consciousness can transcend even that, as claimed by some who have experienced vivid near-death experiences. Explorer reports on the latest research into death and dying, including the use of controlled hypothermia to save lives. Tuesday, Sept. 2, at 10 p.m., National Geographic Channel

Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel
Segments include a look at the skyrocketing cost of sports tickets; a profile of the Texas Rangers’ troubled slugger, Josh Hamilton; an interview with Donald Trump about his controversial plans to build a giant luxury golf resort in Scotland; and an investigation into the latest sport to be tarnished by a betting scandal—tennis. Friday, Sept. 5, at 3 p.m., HBO

The Life and Times of Vivienne Vyle
Absolutely Fabulous creator Jennifer Saunders is both star and co-writer of this equally mordant new series, in which she plays a cynical daytime talk-show host obsessed with ratings and with having a baby with her late husband’s frozen sperm. Miranda Richardson is excellent as her producer, a manic monster so unacquainted with her own child that she has to speak to the tot in Spanish, the nanny’s language. Sunday, Sept. 7, at 9 p.m., Sundance

Other highlights
Republican National Convention
PBS has live coverage from 8–11 p.m. each night; ABC, CBS, and NBC offer prime-time updates; CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC report throughout. Monday–Thursday, Sept. 1–4

The Shield
The Golden Globe–winning police drama returns for its seventh and final season. Michael Chiklis leads the cast. Tuesday, Sept. 2, at 10 p.m., FX

Sons of Anarchy
Charlie Hunnam, Katey Sagal, and Ron Perlman star in this new series about a motorcycle gang. Wednesday, Sept. 3, at 10 p.m., FX

Show of the week
True Blood
This intriguing blend of fantasy, comedy, romance, horror, and whodunit from Six Feet Under producer Alan Ball is based on the novels of Charlaine Harris. Set in northern Louisiana, the series is named after a synthetic substitute for blood that has drawn the world’s vampires out of the coffin, so to speak—they not only walk among mortals, but even have sex with them and demand the same rights. Anna Paquin stars as Sookie Stackhouse, a telepathic barmaid drawn to a long-in-the-fang (age 173) but hunky vampire played by Stephen Moyer. Outlandish as it all sounds, the debut episode is witty, sexy, and scary, filled with colorful characters and atmosphere, auguring an entertaining time ahead. Sunday, Sept. 7, at 9 p.m., HBO

Movies on TV this week
Monday, Sept. 1
Wild River (1960)
Jo Van Fleet gives a fine supporting performance as an old woman who refuses to cede her land to the Tennessee Valley Authority during the Great Depression. Montgomery Clift stars in the drama from director Elia Kazan. Noon, FMC

Tuesday
The War of the Roses (1989)
Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner both received Golden Globe nominations for their performances in this black comedy, as a wealthy couple whose rancorous divorce escalates to all-out war. 2:35 p.m., Encore

Wednesday
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)
Nominated for 10 Oscars, this dazzling martial-arts epic won four. Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain) directed. With Chow Yun-Fat. 9 p.m., IFC

Thursday
The Muse (1999)
Albert Brooks wrote, directed, and stars in this fantasy-satire about a screenwriter who turns to a mythical muse for inspiration. Sharon Stone plays the title role. 3:30 p.m., Sundance

Friday
Your Friends and Neighbors (1998)
Director Neil LaBute portrays a cross-section of contemporary sexual neuroses in this dark comedy. His ensemble includes Ben Stiller, Aaron Eckhart, and Catherine Keener. 9:45 p.m., Flix

Saturday
The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
Assassin Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) closes in on the secret of his own past as his saga concludes in this breakneck action thriller. 10 p.m., Cinemax

Sunday
Becket (1964)
Richard Burton and Peter O’Toole both received Best Actor Oscar nominations for this literate historical epic, in the respective roles of Thomas à Becket and King Henry II. 10 a.m., TCM

 

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

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