PICK OF THE WEEK
12 Angry Men
Sunday, Aug. 17, 9-10:40 p.m.
TV highlights for the week of August 17-23. All times are Eastern; check local listings. Ratings are listed for shows when available (see explanation below).
SUNDAY - 8/17
National Geographic Explorer (TBS, 7-9 p.m.): This long, overwritten program showcases the work of NFL Films, the company whose job it is to get the football league's official footage. Find out how they call the shots by shadowing cameramen covering last season's New England Patriots/Green Bay Packers Super Bowl. For die-hard football fans only. (TV-G)
12 Angry Men (Showtime, 9-10:40 p.m.): If you don't get Showtime, find someone who does. Not only is this riveting remake a welcome relief from the sea of summer reruns, but it successfully updates the 1957 four-star film on which it is based. A blockbuster cast led by Jack Lemmon and George C. Scott doesn't hurt either. Set entirely in a jury room in New York, the film follows 12 jurors as they deliberate the fate of an inner-city teen accused of killing his father. Tempers flare when a lone holdout refuses to vote "guilty," citing doubts the evidence left in his mind. The subsequent discussion sheds new light on the case - and on the character of each man. Lemmon does a superb job in the role of the dissenter, played by Henry Fonda in the original. Like its predecessor, the new film features a powerful (but more racially diverse) cast including Hume Cronyn, Ossie Davis, Tony Danza, Edward James Olmos, and Courtney B. Vance. (TV-PG)
Subway Stories (HBO, 10-11:30 p.m.): In 1995, HBO asked New Yorkers for their favorite subway experiences. About 1,000 wrote in, and the result is yet another example of Hollywood focusing on concept rather than writing. The 10 vignettes are a wildly mixed bunch. They range from the inane (Jonathan Demme's tale of a smelly train and not one, but two pieces about sex on a subway) to the socially charged (Denis Leary as a homeless man). Other stops include Bonnie Hunt in a tale about why it's OK to ask for directions; "The Listeners," a sweet but slight tale starring Lili Taylor; and "Sax Cantor Riff," where a gospel singer and a Jewish cantor turn a station into a concert hall. Contains strong language. (TV-M)
TUESDAY - 8/19
Mad About You (NBC, 8-8:30 p.m.): In this funny repeat, Jamie (Helen Hunt) and Paul (Paul Reiser) play the name game with Uncle Phil (Mel Brooks). Baby Buchman's self-esteem is on the line when Phil asks that the little tyke be named after him. Unfortunately, it turns out Phil isn't Phil's real name. Brooks is up for an Emmy for his recurring role. (TV-PG)
THURSDAY - 8/21
Seinfeld (NBC, 9-9:30 p.m.): This repeat was nominated for an Emmy for its exploration of the evil lurking behind the phrase "yada, yada, yada." (TV-PG)
SATURDAY - 8/23
Rugrats (Nickelodeon, 8-8:30 p.m.): Calling all crumb crunchers and carpet bunnies! Arlene Klaskey and Gabor Csupo are rolling out the first new episodes of the family cartoon since 1994. The season premire of the No. 1 animated series for cable has Tommy Pickles and the gang baffled by dog Spike's bizarre behavior.
TV-Y All Children
TV-Y7 Directed to Older Children
TV-G General Audience
TV-PG Parental Guidance Suggested
TV-14 Parents Strongly Cautioned
TV-M Mature Audience Only