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The Globe and Mail

TV: Five shows worth watching tonight: Aug. 23

A select viewing guide for Thursday, Aug. 23

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DRAMA: Murder, She Wrote (Vision, 7 p.m.) Running an impressive 12 seasons from 1984 to 1996, this murder-mystery series starring Angela Lansbury as literary sleuth Jessica Fletcher still holds up in encore viewing. Tonight’s second-season outing is the continuation of a crossover episode that began on the equally popular eighties crime drama Magnum P.I., which made an international star out of Tom Selleck as the Hawaii-based gumshoe Thomas Magnum. The story finds Magnum in jail and claiming self-defense in the murder of a professional hitman – even though the victim was shot in the back. In her inimitable genteel manner, Jessica tackles the case of finding the real killer, with scheduled breaks for tea time, of course.

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COMEDY: Parks & Recreation (NBC, 8:30 p.m.; Citytv, 9 p.m.) To those viewers still not watching this sharp mockumentary-style sitcom: Do yourselves the favour. Set to return for a fifth season next month, the show’s premise spins outward from ex-Saturday Night Live regular Amy Poehler’s portrayal of Leslie Knope, a dim but lovable mid-level bureaucrat chasing the American dream in fictional Pawnee, Ind. Most shows last season focused on Ms. Knope’s chaotic run for a vacant seat on city council. In tonight’s rebroadcast episode, she’s on the final day of her campaign when the media attention is abruptly diverted by the death of a famous Pawnee citizen, which is exactly how life goes in a small town.

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DOCUMENTARY: One Born Every Minute (Slice, 9 p.m.) Based on a British TV concept, this unscripted series is filmed entirely in the maternity ward of Riverside Methodist Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. Narrated by Jamie Lee Curtis, the format profiles the expectant mothers and significant others before diving straight into the delivery stage. Tonight’s new episode focuses on two childhood sweethearts long denied the joys of parenthood, and a first-time mom whose extensive research into childbirth goes right out the window soon after her first labour pain.

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DOCUMENTARY: Cheating Vegas (TLC, 10 p.m.) The city of Las Vegas was built on gamblers trying to put the odds in their favour, but there are always people working outside the rules. Debuting tonight, this new series profiles cheaters and examines the methods casinos are using to prevent their cheating ways. The first episode takes viewers inside the sprawling Aria Casino, which has more than 3,500 video cameras to catch card-counters, double-dealers and other scam artists. The opener also explains the fine art of points-shaving, in which a gambler and one or more players on a sports team collude to ensure the team will not cover the designated point spread. What happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay in Vegas.

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MOVIE: The Cable Guy (AMC, 10:15 p.m.) Was it a hit or a miss? This 1996 comedy starring Jim Carrey was unanimously panned on release but has since gained new respect via repeated TV airings. The story casts Matthew Broderick as Steven, a quiet man bemoaning his recent breakup with live-in girlfriend Robin (Leslie Mann). After moving into his new apartment, he meets the slightly unhinged cable installer Chip Douglas (named after a character on the sixties sitcom My Three Sons), played by Carrey. Suddenly the shy guy has an obnoxious new best friend – whether he wants one or not. The slapstick storyline is offset by strong support from Jack Black as Steven’s real best pal and Janeane Garofalo as a Medieval Times waitress.

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