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The Televisionist, Aug. 27




3:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 31

American Movie Classics


If you're of a certain vintage, it's likely that the news of the death of director and screenwriter John Hughes on Aug. 6 this year was a shock. I was barely in my teens when Hughes' teen-angst classics like “The Breakfast Club,” “Weird Science,” “Ferris Bueller's Day Off,” “Pretty in Pink” and “Sixteen Candles” hit it big, but those films nonetheless made a serious impression on me. They just don't make teen movies like that anymore — as in: movies about real teens. Hughes' movies were funny, but they were also not afraid to tackle issues like drug use (and not in a Reagan-era Just Say No sorta way), sex and the amount of time parents spend with their kids. Here, AMC presents a 1986 two-fer of Hughes-connected films that were among his best. First is “Pretty in Pink” with Molly Ringwald, followed by the immortal 1980s classic, “Ferris Bueller's Day Off” (which Hughes wrote, but didn't direct). Paging Abe Fromman, Sausage King of Chicago. Your table is ready. 



9 p.m. Monday, Aug. 31

The History Channel


I teach World Literature over at the college part time, so I'm totally down with the lives of the Greek gods. I'd go so far as to say they're a heck of a lot more interesting that the stuffy old Judeo-Christian God, sitting on His cloud, being mentally and physically perfect. For one thing, the Greek gods are made in OUR image, with all the jealousies, flaws, petty squabbles, lust, longing and downright hatred that plain ol' mortal men and women get up to. For another thing, there's a lot of them, and that doesn't even count all the sprites, nymphs, sorceresses and half-gods-and-goddesses who were made when the Big Guys and Gals decided to come to earth and get freaky with the fleshies. Like I said: Much more interesting than the monotheistic way of thinking. In this new show from A&E, scholars, theologians and historians spend an hour a week examining the roles of each of the Greek gods in turn. Out of the bullpen this Monday is Hades, the Ruler of the Afterlife. As you might imagine, given that he lives in a dank, dusty, sunless cosmic bus station with a bunch of dead people, Hades ain't exactly the most cheerful guy in the underworld. 




9 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 2



I love magic. I'm big about the fingers and wrists, with no grace whatsoever, so I could probably never be a magician, but I can dream, can't I? There's only a few things I like more than going out to the Mr. Magic store at Baseline and Stagecoach and just marveling at all the tricks — the decks of marked cards, the wands that turn into bouquets, the little spring-loaded devices that — once properly palmed — can make it look like you've bit a quarter in half, or popped a light bulb with your mind, or made the Jack of Hearts pop out of deck like a rabbit out of a hat. Because I love magic, I really dig magicians. Most of them are the nicest people you'll ever meet; purveyors of wonder and amazement who never really got over the joy of seeing their dad do a card trick. That said, I hope Criss Angel's stage presence is all an act. If not, he might be the d-baggiest guy on the planet. You're a great magician, Criss, but lighten up a little, will ya? All that mascara and hair product is frightening the children. Here, Angel brings his sorta-Goth style to a five-episode miniseries in which he prepares for and performs a different death-defying trick every week.

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