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TV: Five shows worth watching tonight: January 30

A select viewing guide for Wednesday, January 30

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DRAMA Murder She Wrote (Vision, 7 p.m.) They don’t make TV sleuths like Jessica Fletcher anymore. As portrayed by the genteel English actress Angela Lansbury, the fictional spinster was the last TV character who could simultaneously solve a bloody murder while enjoying a cup of tea–and the dear lady drank a great deal of tea because people were always dying around her. Case in point: Tonight’s eighth-season episode in which Jessica is commissioned by a toy company to develop a board game involving her crime-solving capers. When a senior toy executive is brutally murdered, Jessica immediately casts a suspicion eye upon the ad agencies bidding for the firm’s multi-million dollar account.

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HISTORY Super Bowl’s Greatest Commercials (CBS, 8 p.m.) No doubt sports fans are pumped for this Sunday’s Super Bowl game, but for everyone else, the real attraction is the commercials. As in years past, there’s huge hype regarding the advertising spots booked to air during the game, which this year will cost an incredible $3.8-million (US) per 30-second spot. This special, hosted by former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason and actress Aisha Tyler, presents a semi-serious competition to determine the most popular 12 Super Bowl commercials of all time, as determined by viewer voting. Obviously, CBS won’t release the top-12 list in advance, but we should expect to see the classic 1979 Coke ad featuring Mean Joe Green tossing his sweaty to a kid and the more recent Snickers spot in which feisty senior Betty White plays tackle football with a bunch of brawny men. And in between the commercials, there’s commercials!

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SCIENCE Nova (PBS, 9 p.m.) PBS’s revered science series takes a slight departure in tonight’s new episode. Instead of focusing on insect mating rituals or wildlife patterns, the program winds the clock all the way back to 1927 when the American aviator Charles Lindbergh was the most famous person on the planet courtesy of his solo transatlantic flight. A few years later, Lindbergh and his wife Anne had a son, Charlie, who was immediately christened “Little Lindy” by newspaper reporters. On March 1, 1932, kidnappers snagged the boy from the family home in New Jersey and the entire world watched and waited for his recovery. Two months later, his tiny body was discovered less than five miles from his home. The NOVA team assembles a team of investigators and forensics experts to determine what really happened to Little Lindy.

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REALITY Ice Pilots NWT (History, 10 p.m.) Currently in its fourth season, this program documenting the daily work routine at the Yellowknife-based airline Buffalo Airways is likely the best reality show ever produced for Canadian television. The watch-factor stems largely from the Second World War-era prop planes flown by the pilots over the frozen tundra and the presence of cranky Buffalo proprietor Joe McBryan, who runs the airline with a firm hand and occasional assistance from his son, Mikey. Father and son do some serious bonding in tonight’s new episode when the take off on a salvage mission to retrieve a rare tailpiece from a Lockheed aircraft that crashed in the middle of the Yellowknife woods more than 40 years ago.

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MOVIE The Stranger (TCM, 9:45 p.m. ET; 6:45 p.m. PT) The late, great Orson Welles could never possibly revisit the cinema glory and infamy generated by his 1941 masterpiece Citizen Kane, but he came pretty close on a few occasions. In this smart 1946 thriller, Welles directed and took the lead role of a college professor named Charles, a softspoken type living a pastoral existence in a Connecticut town with his wife Mary (Loretta Young). Enter the crafty UN investigator Wilson (Edward G. Robinson), who has good reason to suspect that Charles is actually a former Nazi named Kindler, who is wanted for genocidal war crimes and other atrocities. The plot thickens when the war criminal’s wife learns the truth about her seemingly peaceable husband.

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