ORIGINS: HOW LIFE BEGAN
5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 27
AETN (Comcast Ch. 3, Broadcast Ch. 2)
While suggesting that the world came into being by means other than divine hocus-pocus might be fighting words for your average fundamentalist Christian, science has made great strides in recent years in trying to explain how all this — including the human race — came to be. It’s a complicated subject, which may be why folks cling so tightly to the easy-as-pie version related in religious creation stories. To help the average Joe and Jane make sense of it, “Nova” presents this four-part series, which relates the latest theories of how the universe, the Earth and life itself formed. Hosted by Neil Tyson, director of the Hayden Planetarium at New York’s American Museum of Natural History, it’s sure to be interesting.
RED DAWN (1984)
8 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 28
Spike TV (Comcast Ch. 29)
What with Ronnie in the White House and the Evil Empire still kicking when it hit theaters, “Red Dawn” was a Cold War-era gun nut’s wet dream: The tale of a group of high schoolers-turned guerilla fighters after a full-scale Russian invasion of the U.S. Featuring almost every fresh-faced brat packer of the 1980s — including Charlie Sheen, C. Thomas Howell and Patrick Swayze (as quarterback-turned-leader Jeb) — it’s a film that can’t help but remind the modern viewer of American efforts at stilling young “insurgents” in Iraq. Though we know now that “Red Dawn”was probably a fantasy of the first order, some of the scenes — including Commie reeducation camps and Russian forces using firearms records to round up guns — surely had right-wingers like Pat Buchanan waking up in a cold sweat at the time.
PACIFIC HEIGHTS (1990)
5:45 p.m. Monday, Aug. 29
American Movie Classics (Comcast Ch. 31)
Way back in the late ’80s and early ’90s, a new genre of film was emerging: the “From Hell” flick. You know, films like: “The Hand That Rocks the Cradle” (babysitter from Hell), “Single White Female” (roommate from Hell), and “Fatal Attraction” (the one-night stand from Hell). Therein, upstanding regular people somehow got latched onto by a nutcase who threatened to destroy their lives. One of the best of this ilk is “Pacific Heights,” the story of two young idealists (Matthew Modine and Melanie Griffith) who let a room in their restored San Francisco Victorian home to the renter from Hell (Michael Keaton) — a slimy con-man with a history of driving his landlords to assault, then suing them for everything they have. Scary, suspenseful fun. Unless you’re a landlord, that is.