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TV: Five shows worth watching tonight: May 8

A select viewing guide for Tuesday, May 8

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HISTORY The Real History, 7 p.m. ET/PT Treat yourself to this splendid British program that tells the real stories behind factual films like Saving Private Ryan and Braveheart. Tonight's episode focuses on the 2003 film Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, which starred Russell Crowe and was nominated for 10 Academy Awards, including Best Picture. The film was adapted directly from the nautical tales by author Patrick O'Brian, which followed the adventures of the British sea captain Jack Aubrey (played by Crowe in the film). The biggest change, according to director Peter Weir, was resetting the movie time frame to 1805 – when Britain fought the French – rather than keep the original time of 1812, when Britain was warring with the United States. The reason: No self-respecting Hollywood studio wanted to make a movie where Britain was triumphant over the U.S. in a military battle.

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COMEDY New Girl Fox, CITY-TV, 9 p.m. ET/PT We'll have to get along without Zooey Deschanel for a few months. The perky brunette is the reason viewers flocked to this fresh and funny sitcom, which wraps its first season tonight. For those late to the party, the premise casts Deschanel as Jess, a free spirit who dumps her two-timing boyfriend and moves in with a gaggle of twenty-something dudes. In the season closer, the entire gang decides to take an impromptu trip to the desert, where Winston (Lamorne Morris) confronts his fear of the dark; Schmidt (Max Greenfield) turns a corner in his courtship of Jess's pal Cece (Hanna Simone); and Jess and Nick (Jake Johnson) enter into a battle of wits with a coyote. More momentously, one of the roomies announces he's moving out of the loft.

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SCIENCE Dangerous Flights Discovery, 9 p.m. ET/PT Buckle your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy flight. Debuting tonight, this new Canadian series profiles those hardy souls who make a living in the highly-unregulated field of international aircraft transport. Booked for an eight-episode run, the program format follows them as they hustle used aircraft to customers in far-off locales ranging from the Amazon to Siberia. Tonight's opener introduces the central character of Cory Bengtzen, a former car salesman who launches a used-airplane deliver business on a wing and a prayer. And resourceful? When his cowboy pilots are required to fly the small planes over great distances, Bengtzen has the solution: Weld on extra fuel tanks.

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DRAMA Unforgettable CBS, CTV, 10 p.m. ET/PT Anybody who's watched a single episode of this rookie crime drama is aware that the high-functioning homicide detective Carrie Wells (Poppy Montgomery) only returned to active duty with the NYPD in hopes of finding out who murdered her sister. She's closing in on the killer in tonight's first season finale, which takes her and cop partner Al (Dylan Walsh) back to Carrie's hometown of Syracuse, N.Y., after a murder occurs that mirrors the death of her sister. Canada's own Elias Koteas plays the lead suspect in the case.

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MOVIE Man of a Thousand Faces TCM, 11 p.m. ET; 8 p.m. PT The late James Cagney delivers an endearing performance in this 1957 biopic of silent-film star Lon Chaney, best known for his screen portrayals of The Phantom of the Opera and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. The film depicts Chaney's early days and his marriage to the flighty cabaret singer Cleva (Dorothy Malone). When Cleva walks out on Chaney and their newborn son, the vaudevillian turns to his only available source of income: Hollywood, where his uncanny gift for disguise enables him to play several roles in the same film. Watch for a young Robert Evans as studio boss Irving Thalberg.

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