What's on TV

SHOWS FOR JAN. 5-10

Sunday 1/5

Ten Minutes Older (Showtime, 10:45- 11 p.m.): A series of eight 10-minute films by established European directors begins Friday night with a meditation by Mike Figgis ("Leaving Las Vegas") on the discontinuity of memory. Every Sunday through Feb. 23, a new film will address time in abstract artistic terms.

Monday 1/6

Abby (UPN, 9-9:30 p.m.): The premise of this new situation comedy is thin enough to shove under a file cabinet. Still, the magnificent Sydney Tamiia Poitier and the ever-hilarious Kadeem Hardison as a recently split couple who try to live together as roommates are worth watching. But they deserve better material.

Wednesday 1/8

They Came to America (PBS, check local listings): Americans who are the children of immigrants know firsthand what sacrifices their parents made to raise them in the land of the free. But it's wonderful to hear from those who have fled to the United States from the oppressive circumstances of their former lives. Pulitzer Prize-winning author Frank McCourt ("Angela's Ashes"), actor Cheech Marin, and US Rep. Tom Lantos, among others, tell their stories with feeling, humor, and appreciation for their own cultures as well.

Thursday 1/9

The Surreal Life (WB, special one-hour tonight, 9-10 p.m.; normally half-hour episodes): Yet another reality series - this one with "celebrities" living together in a luxurious house. MC Hammer is the most famous among them. Except perhaps for the Hammer, it is impossible to have assembled a less thoughtful bunch.

Friday 1/10

Mister Sterling (NBC, 8-9 p.m.): With the success of "West Wing" comes political knockoffs like "First Monday" last season and now a tale of a senator who who's unwilling to play the political game. Josh Brolin is attractive in the role and Audra McDonald as his chief of staff is quietly persuasive. But the show does not reflect current political realities accurately enough to engage us fully.

Queens Supreme (CBS, 10-11 p.m.): The midseason dramedy stars Oliver Platt as a cynical New York judge in the most ethnically diverse community in the country. The first show is repetitive and dull. The hope is that with such a talented cast - Platt, Annabella Sciorra, and Robert Loggia - the show will improve.

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