Pearl Harbor: Two Hours That Changed the World
ABC, 10 p.m. There's a glut of Pearl Harbor programming this weekend. The feature film starring Ben Affleck kicked off the Memorial Day weekend and today and tomorrow there are tributes on ABC, NBC and History Television. In December, it will be sixty years since the Japanese bombed the Hawaiian naval base, killing over 3,000 Americans and goading the U.S. into the Second World War. Tonight's ABC News special first aired 10 years ago and deserves a second viewing. Hosted by David Brinkley, the two-hour doc was co-produced with NHK Japanese television and interviews veterans from both sides. The Peabody Award-winning documentary also includes rare footage and photographs found in the film archives of both networks. At 9 p.m. tonight, History airs Tora! Tora! Tora!, the 1970 film that recreates the December 7 attack with incredible realism. Also an American and Japanese co-production, it won an Oscar for special effects.
National Geographic Presents Pearl Harbor: Legacy of an Attack
NBC, 9 p.m. This two-hour National Geographic special takes a different run at the story. Instead of looking back, it investigates the historic site as it is today. Underwater explorer Robert Ballard looks for the wreck of a Japanese midget submarine rumoured to have sunk not far from the naval base. Historians will reveal how they believe this secret sub could have changed history. With the help of the National Park Service, underwater cameras capture the first images from inside the sunken battleship U.S.S. Arizona shown to the public. This will be an eerie and poignant moment for the veterans interviewed, since the Arizona has lain undisturbed for 60 years as a sign of respect for the over 1000 sailors still entombed in its wreckage. And, because it's a National Geographic special, the show examines how the half million gallons of oil still believed to be inside the ship poses a great ecological risk.
talktv, 5 p.m. Remember receiving a Rogers flyer recently announcing that your cable bill is going up again? Well, here's why. This week two channels, talktv and Star!, previously only seen on digital cable are now available on the regular old, analogue cable, which is the service the majority of us use. Talktv with its flagship show the chatroom, is one of those channels you wonder why is on the air at all. Talktv launched last September but its licence was awarded earlier, at a time when talk shows were trendy, like the reality TV bent we're in now. Like most talk shows, talktv can be pretty boring. During the chatroom's five-days-a-week, six-hours-a-night broadcast, viewers are encouraged, demanded in fact, to contact whoever is on the air and chat, something like the TV version of talk radio. The rest of the network's 24 hour schedule is filled with junk like Celebrity Pets, hosted by Marlen Cowpland, and a bunch of old shows. Remember Live It Up? There are also 1960s episodes of W-FIVE and the groundbreaking 1950s series Person to Person. In each live episode legendary journalist Edward R. Murrow talked with people like Frank Sinatra, John Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe in their living rooms.
ABC, 9:30 p.m. May Sweeps is over, all the new stuff has aired, so what's a network to do but fill empty hours with shows that have been cancelled? ABC brings back Geena tonight and Norm on Thursday. Geena was nobody's idea of a good show. Critics attacked its premise (single, city girl moves in with suburban guy with kids) and star Geena Davis's acting when the series debuted last fall. Predictably the show limped along and was eventually pulled off the air in March. But it's back and, if anyone cares, tonight's episode has Teddie (Davis) and Max (Peter Horton) taking dance lessons.
CTV, 8 p.m. The girl with the Chia-pet hair is back. Felicity's Canadian fans (at least those who couldn't watch the series on U.S. pay-TV) have waited quite a while for the third season. CTV, which owns the rights, shelved the series last fall when it couldn't find space for the college-kid soap on its schedule. It's been so long since Felicity has aired I wonder if anyone but hardcore fans will bother tuning in. The show has certainly lost the momentum and buzz it garnered when star Keri Russell shaved off her long hair for Season 2. Given the time lag, CTV should run the Season 2 finale again, just to remind us that Felicity and Ben (Scott Speedman) are officially in love and Noel (Scott Foley) has run off with the wild and sexy Natalie. There are a few changes in Season 3: a new opening segment (which has shots of Russell and her old hairstyle) and a new theme song. Also gone are Felicity's voiceover letters to Sally. Instead, there's narrative input from all the characters through video clips taken from a documentary Sean (Greg Grunberg) is shooting about the gang's junior year. It's jarring and takes a little getting used to, but it works. Everything else about the show remains the same -- lots of lingering shots of the pensive cast set to swells of emotive, popular music. Felicity will be back for a fourth season in the U.S. this fall. CTV announces it's fall schedule next week.
Backstreet Boys: Larger Than Life
CBS, CH, 8 p.m. If these guys are still popular in your household, take note: Backstreet Boys have scored their first big network show. (Although, official network-special recognition from CBS likely means the aging Boys are no longer the hottest teen ticket.) The band performs in Los Angeles, and the show will include footage from their most recent tour and from the band's early, formative years (all the way back to the mid-1990s).
ABC, 8:30 p.m. Canada's favourite naughty little boy is back on the air. Norm Macdonald's sitcom was recently cancelled by ABC so this is its last gasp. Norm debuted in the spring of 1999 to mixed reviews. It hung on for three seasons, but ABC pulled the series before May Sweeps, which is never a good sign. Even fans of the show weren't laughing much in the third season as the jokes and the plots just got weaker. Case in point: In tonight's episode, Norm tries to sleep with Laurie's lesbian friend, played by guest star Courtney Thorne-Smith.
A.J. After Hours
Star!, 11:00 p.m. Lucky you. As of this week, Star! the showbiz channel is lurking somewhere on your cable lineup. (Rogers just moved the network from its digital to analogue service.) Viewers can no longer hide behind a lack of digital TV technology to avoid the celebrity news and gossip network. Channel surf in the nosebleed section and you're bound to come across it. If you're lucky, you'll tune in when Star! is airing one of the many programs it buys from E!, the U.S. entertainment network. Not that shows like True Hollywood Story, Talk Soup, Mysteries & Scandals and Celebrity Profile are outstanding, but fans of celebrity comings and goings find them enjoyable. Too bad for you if you stumble across something homegrown, especially if it's a show like Before the Laughter: The Canadian Comedy Awards Pre-Show. Who wants to watch badly dressed comics make small talk? But I guess that's Star!'s point. If it puts Canadian celebrities on the air long enough, eventually we'll stop scoffing and start oogling. Tonight, another E! series launches: A.J. After Hours is a celeb talk show about New York City's club scene and is hosted by one-time gossip columnist A.J. Benza.