TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Doctor Who”
season-opener, 9-10:10 p.m., BBC America.
Two of the great forces in British
television link for a show that's instantly wonderful.
One is Steven Moffat, the creator of
superb comedy (“Coupling”) and drama (“Jekyll”). The other is
“Doctor Who,” which has been on and off TV since 1963; a
documentary at 8 p.m. offers details.
The Doctor (that's his only name) is a
rogue Time Lord who travels in a phone booth that's much bigger
inside than out. Since he can change bodies, he's been played by 10
actors, the most recent ones ranging from stern (Christopher
Eccleston) to whimsical (David Tennant).
Now the 11th Doctor (Matt
Smith) is on the side of whimsy, with an “Alice of Wonderland”
sense of illogic. Scottish actress Karen Gillan is a delight as his
bewildered (at first) companion Amy Pond.
Some viewers will revolt at all this
nonsense. Others will consider it the consummate blend of humor,
drama, fantasy, heart and Moffat-esque brilliance.
TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE: “Saturday Night
Live,” 11:29 p.m., NBC.
If you prefer your humor to be more
conventional (and more American), this show is usually fine.
Ryan Phillippe hosts, just as his
ex-wife Reese Witherspoon has done. The music guest is Ke$ha, whose
“Tik Tok” dominated the Billboard chart last year.
TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “The Front,”
9 p.m., Lifetime.
Lifetime had planned to run both of its
Patricia Cornwell movies – “At Risk” and “The Front” –
back-to-back. It changed that, which is just as well; the two have
some extreme plot similarities.
Instead, we can focus on “The Front,”
with its mixed blessings: It has a wild plot, smart dialog, handsome
filming and perfect casting.
Daniel Sunjata is a Boston cop,
assigned by an ambitious district attorney (Andie MacDowell) to a
case that has echoes of the old boston strangler. This story also
adds fresh focus on “Stump” (Ashley Williams), a tough,
Other choices include:
– “Panic Room” (2002), 7-9 p.m.,
Ion. Kristen Stewart was 12, long before her “Twilight” fame,
when she co-starred with Jodie Foster in this story of a mom and
daughter, trapped by three home invaders.
– “Shrek 2” (2004), 7 and 8:55
p.m., TBS. This animated sequel offers a problem many parents will
sympathize with – that first moment they learn their daughter has
married an ogre.
– “Shark Tale” (2004), 8-10 p.m.,
ABC. The network planned to also show “Shrek 2” tonight, then
switched to a different animated comedy. In the undersea world, an
anchor accidentally kills a mob boss (Robert De Niro); a
bottom-feeder (Will Smith) tries to take credit.
– “NCIS: Los Angeles,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. In this rerun, a vehicle loaded with a Hellfire missile has been
stolen. This is not good news.
– “Strikeforce: Nashville,” 9-11
p.m., CBS. In three matches, tough men hit and tackle each other.
– “Castle,” 10 p.m., ABC. This
rerun is more disconcerting than Goldilocks: When a family returns
home, it finds a dad man in the daughter's bed.