What's on TV
SHOWS FOR OCTOBER 26-31
Born Rich (HBO, 10-11:15 p.m.): Jamie Johnson, heir to the Johnson & Johnson fortune, has made a fine film about that small, select group of people who took their Gerber with a silver spoon.
Through a series of interviews with the grown-up offspring of billionaires - among them S.I. Newhouse IV, whose family own Condé Naste publishing, and Ivanka Trump, daughter of Donald - the filmmaker traces the way they look at the world. The results aren't always flattering. One interviewee believes that revenge is "sweet," and isn't beyond threatening people by saying he can buy and sell their family. (Later he tries to sue Johnson to prevent the film's release, realizing that his statements will make him look bad.) Another says he doesn't believe in guilt, so he does whatever he desires. Guilt, he says, is a "Puritan" bourgeois construct. There is at least one truly sympathetic character whose parents made him survive on his own for a while. Working hard in oil fields and agriculture, he learned that you can't be happy without hard work.
Nova Presents: The Elegant Universe (PBS, 8-10 p.m., continues Nov. 4, check local listings): Everything you ever wanted to know about string theory, but were too confused to ask. Nova has come up with a brilliant and comprehensible exploration of a truly complicated theory. This one is narrated by Brian Greene, a suave, but cute-and-fuzzy physicist. Dr. Greene takes us through the history of the search for a unified "Theory of Everything." In the process, he makes us imagine dozens of dimensions to the universe we cannot see now, but may be able to one day.
A Minute with Stan Hooper (Fox, 8:30 - 9 p.m.): Norm Macdonald is a funny guy. But he's not much of an actor. Even so, this amusing pilot episode holds out hope. The "Saturday Night Live" veteran plays a TV journalist who does "A Minute with Stan" at the end of a popular news show. In a quest to live a simple life and bring back a nostalgic realism to his "Minute," he decides to move back to the heartland. As Stan becomes embroiled in the lives of his neighbors, he remembers how complex small-town life actually is. It's really simpler in the city where you never talk to your neighbors. It's a funny and oddly sweet show for this comedic wise guy.