Monday TV: ‘Houdini’ Needs More Magic

Houdini-Adrien_BrodyAdrien Brody seems well cast as the master illusionist in “Houdini” (History, 9 p.m.), a two part miniseries that is full of splendid period art direction. But there is something very rote about the storytelling, as if once we find that his main trick was hiding a key to the handcuffs that bound him undid the tricks. Brody’s angular face and tufts of hair make him look perfect for the part, but there’s too much magic missing in the biography overall. Part two runs Tuesday.

“Saved by the Bell” was an odd and clunky high school comedy of the 90s that fascinated kids who were otherwise tuning into Saturday mornings for cartoons. That some of it stars stayed around for other bad ┬áTV or movie jobs kept it alive as a nostalgic touchstone for Generation X. But was it enough of a cult item to warrant someone playing Mario Lopez and Elizabeth Berkley?

“The Unauthorized Saved by the Bell Story” (Lifetime, 9 p.m.) should by all rights be showing on Saturday mornings, is told from the point of view of the least reliable narrator, Dusgin Diamond, who played Screech. Sam Kindseth sort of looks like him and care has been taken to darken the eyebrows of Dylan Everett who plays Mark-Paul Gosselaar. The first five minutes of it, which is all they released in advance, looks at least as cheesy as the original sitcom. So at least it strives toward authenticity.

Late term abortion is not taken lightly by anyone involved. The procedure is legal in nine states but only four doctors nationwide perform them because of restrictions, constant death threats and assassination. The death of Dr. George Tiller at church only keeps the remaining doctors who provide the service determined to keep at it. A look inside the besieged clinics in Martha Shane and lana Wilson’s film “After Tiller” on “POV” (PBS, 10 p.m., check local listings) prove them not to be the monsters they are depicted as being in local news reports at all.

Hey, here’s another streaming original program. “Hinterland” (Netflix, streaming) is a four part series about police in Wales that starts today.

The new fall TV season doesn’t start until later this month, but here’s a prime time peek with the “CBS Fall Preview” (CBS, 8:30 p.m.) with glimpses of “Madame Secretary,” “NCIS: New Orleans,” “Stalker,” “Scorpion” and “The McCarthys.”

Last chance to catch “The Simpsons” (FX, all day) marathon, which runs right up to last season.

Tamron Hall tromps around in a survivalist boot camp in the Utah desert in “Running Wild with Bear Grylls” (NBC, 8 p.m.).

 

Climate change on “Under the Dome” (CBS, 10 p.m.)? You bet. The greenhouse effect has got to be murder.

“Mistresses” (ABC, 10 p.m.) wraps up its second season with an engagement party.

It’s move-in day on “America’s Next Top Model” (The CW, 9 p.m.).

Best title of the night may be “Hasselhoff vs. the Berlin Wall” (National Geographic, 10 p.m.). Germany loves both.

The six remaining contestants on “MasterChef” (Fox, 8 p.m.) work in a tony L.A. restaurant.

The vacationing never ends on “Bachelor in Paradise” (ABC, 8 p.m.) where desperation cloaks most of the relationships.

To salute the Telluride Film Festival currently taking place in Colorado, Turner Movie Classics presents a 24-hour, 14-film salute featuring films that played there in the past, with “Russian Ark” (6 a.m.), “The Garden of Allah” (8 a.m.), “The Big Parade” (9:30 a.m.), “Spirit of the Beehive” (12:15 p.m.), “Something Wild” (2 p.m.), “The Most Dangerous Game” (4 p.m.), “Death Rides a Horse” (5:15 p.m.), “Le Joli Mai” (8 p.m.), “Portrait of Jennie” (10:30 p.m.), “My Left Foot” (12:15 a.m.), “The Crying Game” (2:15 a.m.) and “Overlord” (4:15 a.m.).

Baseball today includes Philadelphia at Atlanta (ESPN, 1 p.m.) and Detroit at Cleveland (ESPN, 4 p.m.).

In college football, it’s Miami at Louisville (ESPN, 8 p.m.).

The round of 16 begins in the U.S. Open (CBS, 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., ESPN2, 7 p.m.).

Daytime Talk

Kelly & Michael: Lea Michele, Dr. Wendy Bazilian. The View: Clive Owen, Josh Henderson, Nicolle Wallace & Kayleigh McEnany (rerun). Ellen DeGeneres: Michael Ealy, Keith Urban (rerun). Wendy Williams: Larenz Tate, Sunny Anderson (rerun).

Late Talk

David Letterman: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Novak Djokovic, Robby Johnson (rerun). Jimmy Fallon: Clint Eastwood, Jack White (rerun). Jimmy Kimmel: Jennifer Aniston, Adam Perry Lang, Bob Mould (rerun). Seth Meyers: Taylor Swift, Boy George, Derek Waters (rerun). Craig Ferguson: Ray Liotta, Annaleigh Ashford. Carson Daly: Judy Greer, Sarah Lee Guthrie, Johnny Irion (rerun). Tavis Smiley: Rosanne Cash (rerun). Jon Stewart: David Rose (rerun). Stephen Colbert: Michael Sheen (rerun). Arsenio Hall: Randy Jackson, Jackie Fabulous, Kym Whitley, Lil’ Jon, Jermaine Dupri (rerun). Conan O’Brien: Michael Sheen, Joe Manganiello, Marsha Ambrosius (rerun).

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