Tuning in: on TV this week

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Sunday, May 2

10.5 (NBC, 9-11 p.m., concludes Monday): Unintentional humor is one of the great side effects of sweeps month, and NBC will have viewers shaking with laughter with its earthquake miniseries. The premise that the Big One will take out the entire West Coast is a heart stopper, but events have to move so quickly that cartoon characters and hamfisted plotlines are inevitable. And with special effects that mix quality CGI with miniature toy trains, well, this is popcorn TV at its best. Kim Delaney stars.

The Book of Ruth (CBS, 9-11 p.m.): This Ruth is nothing like the heroine of the Old Testament. The film is based on a bestselling book and stars Nicholle Tom as Young Ruth, a timid girl who is made to feel worthless by her abusive mother, Maylene (Christine Lahti). Though the story is bleak, the acting is compelling. Its most redeeming quality is the complexity of its insight into human motives.

Monday, May 3

Golden Gate Bridge (PBS, check local listings): Exquisitely graceful, the bridge remains one of the great engineering wonders of the world. But its history is more twisted than one of its cables. Built in the 1930s during the Great Depression, it required the folks of three counties to mortgage their homes and ranches to raise the money for the bridge that would bind Marin to San Francisco. Obstacles included gale force winds, dense fogs, and a lot of infighting.

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Wednesday, May 5

Searching for Asian America (PBS, check local listings): This exceptional 90-minute special investigates the lives of four Asian Americans. Subjects include Lela Lee, a young Korean-American actress and author of a caustic Web comic strip called "Angry Little Girls," and Washington Gov. Gary Locke.

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