Tubegazing: Scandals uncovered, hostages saved

AIR: America's Investigative Reports (PBS, debuts Sept. 1 at 9 p.m. EDT): Public respect for the media may be at a low ebb, but the fact remains that good journalism is vital to the health of any democracy. This new PBS series profiles teams of journalists – broadcast and print – who have uncovered important stories with information that has changed policies and affected the national welfare. The half-hour episodes feature the investigative reporters who uncovered the Enron and Abu Ghraib scandals as well as those who chronicled the inadequate response from FEMA after hurricane Katrina hit. Tune in to see why the media still matter to all of us. Grade: A

Standoff (FOX, debuts Tuesday, Sept. 5 at 9 p.m. EDT): The last of three new dramas on FOX is about an elite (is there any other kind?) hostage negotiation team and stars Ron Livingstone and Rosemarie DeWitt. It's billed as part "Moonlighting," part "24," but happily it's neither. The leads aren't nearly as silly or snappy as Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd, and the show spends way more time inside the character's heads than Jack Bauer would ever have time to allow. The series' unique angle lends itself to interesting psychological drama as it explores the hows and whys of hostage negotiation – even as it dishes out a heavy helping of FOX's de rigueur hoppin' hormones. Grade: B

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