What's on TV
SHOWS WORTH NOTING FOR Aug. 11-17
Dinner with Friends (HBO, 9-10:35 p.m.): At first glance, Donald Margulies's play doesn't really seem like Pulitzer Prize material, and on television it looks, well, too much like television. But there's more to this midlife-crises drama than there seems to be at first. The story follows two married couples who have raised their kids side by side. But things explode when one of the women (Toni Collette) announces that she and her husband (Greg Kinnear) of 12 years are about to divorce. The other couple (Dennis Quaid and Andie MacDowell) feel lost without their close friends, and start to worry about their own relationship. And though the latter pair never come to a profound understanding of the nature of love, the fact is, they do love each other. The message here is that marriage can't be a community activity. Esteemed director Norman Jewison has done a fine job of interpreting the play.
Snow in August (Showtime, 8-9:45 p.m.): It's the 1940s, the war is not yet over, and a boy and his Irish mother live together in a tough New York neighborhood. The Catholic child makes friends with a rabbi who teaches him Yiddish in exchange for English lessons. When the boy witnesses a crime, his life is threatened - and so is the rabbi's. So what's a boy to do? Call on a mysterious mythological figure for help. It's a stretch, but there's genuine warmth here. Stars Stephen Rea, Lolita Davidovich, and Peter Tambakis.
State of Grace (Fox Family, 9-10 p.m. ): This episode of this fine family series is called "Looking for God in All the Right Places." The little girls decide to pray for their mothers when they feel the two women are in danger. The trouble is, neither knows how, so they turn to different traditions for insight. The authentic desire to save their mothers rings true to the innocence of children.
Dead Last (The WB, 9-10 p.m.): This new series concerns a rock group that finds a mysterious and ancient amulet. After reading the inscription, the kids are suddenly infused with the power to see dead people. Each one of the ghosts has a problem and needs a human to solve it. We've seen the idea before ("The Sixth Sense"), but this quirky comedy is kind of fun - how often are TV teens involved in nonstop good works? They actually enjoy helping the specters.