Sunday, March 14
Spinning Boris (Showtime, 8-10 p.m.): Yeltsin, that is. Jeff Goldblum, Anthony LaPaglia, and Liev Shreiber star in this witty, fact-based story of American political consultants who win Yeltsin a second term by playing politics the American way: smear tactics, kissing babies, and focus groups. Boris appears in archival footage from the 1996 campaign, but it's the Bugs Bunny trio of sassy, superior, and sardonic wits who make this well-made movie as beguiling as it is.
Colosseum: A Gladiator's Story (Discovery Channel, 9-10 pm): This remarkable, electrifying docudrama tells the true story of Verus, a famous gladiator from ancient Rome. But this film debunks many of the lurid myths about these contests - and still manages to reflect intelligently on why Roman culture fed so readily upon bloodthirsty "games."
Patrick (Hallmark Channel, 10 p.m.-12 midnight): He never chased the snakes out of Ireland, because there were no snakes in Ireland. This demystification of the man commonly known as "Saint Patrick" tells an earnest tale about the 5th-century monk, who was born an aristocrat, was kidnapped and sold into slavery, and who escaped to ultimately become the leader of the Roman Catholic church in Ireland. Liam Neeson narrates and Gabriel Byrne provides the voice of Patrick.
Tuesday, March 16
Balseros (Cinemax, 6-8 p.m.): This Oscar-nominated documentary follows seven Cuban rafters over the course of seven years as they attempt to carve out new lives in the US.
Century City (CBS, 9-10 p.m.): As the new midseason shows roll out, few among them will be as technically interesting as this one. The law office of the near future has a case load that handles the ethical and legal ramifications of clones and genetic engineering, among other future battles. All the usual lawyer suspects fight these battles - a stern boss; a reckless, idealistic, ambitious young male; a sober-minded young woman with more questions than answers; and so on. But the special effects are terrific, and the acting engaging.
NCAA Basketball Tournament (CBS, starting at 7 p.m.): March Madness kicks off with 48 games during the first round of play. Can underdogs such as Gonzaga and the undefeated St. Joseph's stand up to perennial powerhouses such as Duke and Stanford? Let the parquet battles begin! The championship game will air on April 5.