TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE: “The ‘90s: The Last Great Decade” debut,
9-11 p.m., National Geographic.
For Americans, some decades set their identity quickly. The
2000’s descended into darkness on Sept. 11, 2001; the ‘90s seemed to glow after
the 1991 Gulf War.
Borrowing an Alan Greenspan phrase, the film calls the 1990s
“10 years of irrational exuberance.” The economy prospered; politics followed
the ceaseless optimism of Bill Clinton – here dubbed by Tony Blair, James
Carville AND Newt Gingrich as the best politician of his era. Tonight’s film –
the start of a three-night mini-series – is jaunty and fun, giving equal time
to world crises and Anna Nicole Smith.
TONIGHT’S MIGHT-SEE: “Last Tango in Halifax” and “Vicious,”
8 and 10:30 p.m., PBS (check local listings).
Ever since triumphing in “I, Claudius” 37 years ago, Derek
Jacobi has been a PBS favorite. At 75, he stars in two short-run series (each
with a six-episode season) that are thorough opposites.
“Halifax” is slow and sweet, with Jacobi and Anne Reid as
people who get together after a 50-year gap; tonight brings their first day of
marriage. “Vicious” is loud and brash, with roommates who have sniped fondly for
decades; in other hands, it would be awful, but Jacobi and Ian McKellan make it
TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “The Musketeers,” 9-10:30 p.m., BBC
Others may settle for small stories and small-screen
productions; “Musketeers” tries to create an epic adventure movie each week.
Tonight’s main story would be more than enough, with the
Musketeers arresting a scheming slave-trader. It has clever twists and the gifted
James Callis (Baltar in “Battlestar Galactica”). But there’s another story,
with Athos confronting past pain; it’s played like a sweeping Harlequin
Other choices include:
“The Simpsons,” 8 and 8:30 p.m., Fox. These reruns see Homer
look at the past and future. First, people ponder old mistakes; his was selling
his Apple stock to get a bowling ball. Then his dad and two others are staying
at the Simpson house; Homer quickly falls into old-guy habits.
“Masterpiece Mystery,” 9 p.m., PBS (check local listings). Almost
a century ago, there were murders at a girls’ school. Now young Endeavour Morse
probes the dreary school, to stop a new round of slayings.
“Reckless,” 9 p.m., CBS. Last week’s opener centered on two
lawyers – a handsome Southerner and a gorgeous Yankee – on opposite ends of a
case involving a cop in a sex tape. That case continues, but tonight they’re
also on the opposite ends of a custody case that turns violent.
“The Last Ship,” 9 p.m., TNT. This tautly terrific series
follows a Navy ship with mankind’s last hope – a scientist who has the sample
and the lab to try to stop a global virus. As last week ended, the ship was
pinned in port by Russians. Some of tonight’s plot twists – especially involving
mid-mission romance – seem contrived. Still, this Michael Bay production is so
sleek and sharp that gripes fade away.
“Witches of East End” season-opener, 9 p.m., Lifetime. All
sorts of spooky things happen tonight, with spells, hallucinations and the open
portal to Asgard. It gets excessive, but is brightened by some fun moments for
both sisters, including a clumsy job interview and a meet-cute feud with a new
“Unforgettable,” 10 p.m., CBS. A champion boxer has been
beaten to death, with no indication he defended himself. Now Carrie probes his
past to see what happened.