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The Televisionist, Nov. 18

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JERSEY SORE: Not much premartial bliss in 'My Big Friggin' Wedding.'
  • JERSEY SORE: Not much premartial bliss in 'My Big Friggin' Wedding.'

MY BIG FRIGGIN' WEDDING

Mondays at 8 p.m.

VH1

Forgive us while we wax nostalgic a bit for the good ol' days, when VH1 actually fielded music videos, along with in-depth looks at the lives of rock stars via "Behind the Music" and the delicious, delicious trivia-gasm that was "Pop Up Video," which featured videos supplemented by bits of extraneous info that "blooped" onto the screen. Yes, it was a lovely time to be alive. These days, VH1 has morphed into a full-on, reality show wasteland, featuring guilty pleasure fare (heavy on the guilt) like "Celebrity Rehab" and "Bret Michaels: Life as I Know It." Now VH1 is augmenting our reality-strewn TV world with even more realness, in the form of "My Big Friggin' Wedding." As with many reality shows these days, the formula on "MBFW" is to seek out the most emotionally unattractive people they can find, put them in a situation of high stress, and then film the results. This time, we're talking mostly Jersey-bred Italian-Americans of the loud-and-drunken variety who are preparing to be joined in wedded bliss. Fold in a heaping helping of crazy family, a touch of bridezilla, a splash of wine and a spoonful of clueless, hair-product-obsessed groom, and you've got a delicious baked ziti of failure. While some of the folks on the show are appealing just because they seem comfortable with themselves to the point of fault, mostly it's just a high-decibel train wreck. Check it out, if only to see why you probably never, ever want to go to New Jersey.


NOVA: THE QUEST FOR SOLOMON'S MINES

8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 23

PBS

Right now over in the Republican Empire, the GOP is tuning up for a push to deny funding to public broadcasting, including National Public Radio and PBS. If there is a better reason to keep that money flowing than the long-running PBS show "Nova," we'd like to hear it. While The History Channel is fielding shows on hunting Sasquatch and whether the Nazis were working with Little Green Men, Nova is pumping out solid, factual, for-real history and science programming. To boot, it's uniformly fascinating, featuring interviews and research from the best minds in a given field. This week, the show takes on one of the most enduring legends in history: the search for the famously rich mines of the Old Testament's King Solomon. Real-life Indiana Jones-types have been scouring the Middle East and Africa for King Solomon's secret stash for hundreds of years, but have yet to come upon any evidence to point to its whereabouts. What's more, given that the historical record — that is, the record outside the Bible — is almost devoid of any mention of Solomon, archeologists and historians are beginning to wonder whether he ever existed in the first place. Some even say he was a figment of our collective human imagination, and no more real than King Arthur. Here, Nova follows archeologists into the field to search for clues, including a dig at a 3,000-year-old copper mine in Jordan that may hold clues to the whereabouts of the most storied treasure in history.


CARRIE (1976)

11 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 20

IFC

It's easy to forget how different the world was back in 1976 when the film version of "Carrie" was made. Though society in general is a lot more comfortable with women's bodies these days, people back then just didn't talk about such things as menstruation, much less make movies about it. Then along came Stephen King and his 1974 book about a tormented, religiously-isolated girl who develops the ability to move objects with her mind after having her first period. King has prided himself over the years in being a guy who is always ready to take a sharp stick and poke whatever it is that makes America uneasy, and his debut novel was no different. The movie version, directed by Brian De Palma, totally gets that sense of unease, and still stands up as a classic of suspense -- if not "horror" in the current, jump-out-and-get-ya sense. Sissy Spacek is excellent as Carrie White, an introverted teenage girl who is often picked-on and bullied at school and then terrorized at home by her religious kook of a mother, played by Piper Laurie. Both Spacek and Laurie were nominated for Academy Awards for their performances. Supporting actors include William Katt as the kind-hearted golden boy Tommy, Nancy Allen as Carrie's chief tormentor Chris, and a very young John Travolta (fresh off his star-making turn on "Welcome Back Kotter") as Chris's boyfriend Billy. If you haven't seen it in awhile, the scene at the end is still riveting, and worth re-watching just to see how much De Palma does with red lighting and camera angles.

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