What's on TV


Saturday 3/9

The Laramie Project (HBO, 8-9:35 p.m.): The murder of Matthew Shepard made headlines around the world in 1998. The gay college student was savagely beaten by two young men, who robbed him and left him to die on a lonely Wyoming road. Playwright-director Moisés Kaufman and his Tectonic Theater Project in New York interviewed residents of Laramie, Wyo., after the hate crime and created a play based on the interviews. But the play was more powerful than this new film made from it, in which the stars (Laura Linney, Peter Fonda, Camryn Manheim) get in the way of the story.

Sunday 3/10

Gorillas (A&E, 8-10 p.m.): This absorbing documentary, narrated by Martin Sheen "(West Wing"), tells a sorry story of animal abuse. But humans have wised up at the best zoos. Scientists know much more about this fascinating species, and the more we know the more marvelous these elegant beasts appear.

9/11 (CBS, 9-11 p.m.): Despite opposition from relatives of Sept. 11 victims, CBS plans to air footage shot inside the World Trade Center on the day of the attacks. The network insists that the footage includes nothing exploitative, gory, or violent. Robert De Niro hosts.

Monday 3/11

The American Embassy (Fox, 9-10 p.m.): Young Emma Brody (Arija Bareikis) leaves her overbearing mother behind and the fiancé who cheated on her and takes a job as a vice consul at the US Embassy in London. The pilot is promising, if uneven.

Tuesday 3/12

The Shield (FX, Tuesdays, 10-11 p.m.): The first original drama series on FX pushes the envelope of brutality - mostly by insinuations of police torture of suspected criminals. The pilot sets us up to accept this grotesque endorsement of torture by making us either chose it or see a child molester go free. The cast is excellent and the writing is competent - but the show could be better than it is.

Thursday 3/14

Guide to Becoming a Rock Star (WB, back to back episodes, 8-9 p.m.): A new series that pushes the envelope for crudity, but has few funny moments. Four young people form a rock group, and the lead singer offers tips on how to go about this exotic process.

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