- WHAT'S YOUR MAJOR MALFUNCTION? R. Lee Ermey returns to TV.
WAR OF THE WORLDS (1953)
7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 4
Turner Classic Movies
Steven Spielberg and Tom Cruise made a big budget, whiz-bang, CGI-bloated remake of this classic story from H.G. Wells a few years back, but we think not many will argue when we say it fell a little flat. For our money, computer-generated hocus-pocus is both a blessing and a curse. Yeah, you can make anything — and we do mean anything — happen on film. But if you really and truly love movies, part of the joy of watching a piece of cinema is seeing the filmmakers work within and even embrace their limitations. Take away those limitations — as CGI has largely done in recent years — and you end up with movies that are so busy figuring out the next WOW! moment that they forget to include the human moment. That said, we'll take 1953's “War of the Worlds” over the Tom Cruise vehicle any day. The aliens are a bit wonky and you can see the wires in places, but your imagination handily fills in the blanks. That's the way it should be.
LOCK AND LOAD
8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 4
The History Channel
n In solemn preparation for writing this entry, I just went on YouTube and watched the first 10 minutes of Stanley Kubrick's “Full Metal Jacket.” If you haven't seen it in awhile, go watch it. Someday, when my grandkids ask me why I never saw fit to enter military service, I will play that scene for them. The reason for my reluctance to serve is the performance of one R. Lee Ermey, a former Marine Corps drill instructor who came on board “FMJ” as a consultant, but was soon awarded the role of the sadistic Senior Drill Instructor Sgt. Hartmann. It's one of the great military roles in all of film, and the fact that Ermey wasn't even nominated for a supporting actor Oscar borders on a crime against humanity. The funny thing is, Ermey in real life seems to be one of the nicest guys you'd ever meet. In this new show from The History Channel, he works his way through the history of modern weaponry, using hands-on demonstrations of classic tanks, handguns, rifles, artillery pieces and more to prove his point.
8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 9
n This is one of those shows that seems destined for the junkyard, so catch it while you can. At the very least, ABC isn't lavishing promotional effort or money on it, so it's likely not long for this world. If you're a gearhead, however, it's a lot of fun. Every week, teams of friends/relatives compete in automotive competitions, which run the gamut from bizarre to the outright dangerous. The team that accumulates the most points by the end of the competition wins $50,000. To get there, drivers have to endure all manner of hardship, including parallel parking tanks, rolling crashes in a bus, jumping cars “Dukes of Hazzard” style and other motor mayhem. Yeah, it's kinda dumb, but it's not a bad way to kill an hour of your life, especially if you've got petrol in your blood.