What's on TV


Saturday 3/8

Nashville Star (USA Network, 9-10:30 p.m.): Big belt buckles, fringe jackets, and enough talent (good and bad) to fill a 10-gallon hat. That's what you get in this American Idol for the boots and fiddle set. Twelve performers, from authentic hillbilly to rock-infused country, were handpicked from 8,000 contestants who competed from Detroit to Dallas. The judges are a little less intimidating and acerbic than Simon Cowell on "American Idol," but they're still edgy. The grand prize: a recording contract with Sony Nashville Music and the opportunity to have an album produced by Clint Black.

Sunday 3/9

The Pentagon Papers (FX, 8-10 p.m.): James Spader gives a profoundly engaging performance as Daniel Ellsberg, the whistle-blower (or traitor, depending on how you look at it) who turned over 7,000 pages of a classified Department of Defense document to The New York Times and the Washington Post that detailed the history of the Vietnam conflict. According to the government's own analysis, the war in Vietnam could not be won by military force. Ellsberg's disclosures helped halt the war. Alan Arkin costars. TV-PG

Oliver Beene (Fox, 8:30-9 p.m.): The Beene family lives in a tiny Queens apartment in the 1960s, but there's nothing nostalgic about the gross-out comedy. In one episode, Oliver (Grant Rosenmeyer) no longer wants to be known as the boy who split his pants, so he shoots for the impossible: He swings high enough in the schoolyard playground to leap out of his seat and fly over a high wall. Problem is, he lands on the first African-American kid in school and breaks the boy's arm. Meanwhile, his older brother practices untying a bra wrapped around a chair, while dad makes it known he likes to pee in the pool. Two parts "Malcolm in the Middle," one part "The Wonder Years," it's entirely tasteless and tedious. TV-PG

Return to the Batcave: The Misadventures of Adam and Burt (CBS, 9-11 p.m.): Holy snoring nostalgia, Batman! This rambling, amateurish valentine to the 1960s TV series stars Adam West and Burt Ward as themselves, searching for a stolen Batmobile while reminiscing about life playing the Dynamic Duo. Thankfully, Ward doesn't try to squeeze into his old Robin costume. TV-PG

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