"Six Feet Under" (9 p.m., HBO) It just gets kookier and kookier. And this week sparks fly when Claire (Lauren Ambrose) meets Karen's wacko brother Billy (Jeremy Sisto) and Ruth (Frances Conroy) is wooed by the funeral home's Russian florist, Nikolai (Ed O'Ross). Meanwhile, while David (Michael C. Hall) serves meals to the homeless for his church, he's pursued by a divorced parishioner (Dina Spybey). That's something his boyfriend is sure to hate. And Nate (Peter Krause) discovers some of his father's secrets, including a mysterious room that he bartered in exchange for a funeral.
"Crime Story" (9 p.m., A&E) The old NBC cop series is back for a brief run. It stars former cop and terrific actor Dennis Farina as Lt. Mike Torello, the hard-nosed head of Chicago's Major Crime Unit during the turbulent '60s. First up, Mike learns that rising mob punk Ray Luca (Anthony Denison) has planned a series of robberies to impress a local mob boss (Jon Polito). And that makes Torello mad. Especially when he finds out the plans involve the son of one of Torello's close friends. The swell supporting cast includes former "NYPD" star David Caruso. And no, I'm not gonna say it.
"American Experience: Meltdown at Three Mile Island" (10 p.m., PBS) A documentary chronicle of the 1979 disaster at the Pennsylvania nuclear power plant begins with the fact that it all started with a simple plumbing breakdown. Wow. To think that if the last guy to use the can had just jiggled the handle ... .Oh, the humanity.
"Dateline" (10 p.m., NBC) Sex, sex, sex, sex, sex-sex-sex. Jane Pauley and Stone Phillips anchor this hour-long report on "sexual attitudes and behaviors in America, especially among teens." It includes discussions about unprotected sex, abstinence and pornography on the Internet. It also talks about intimate e-mails and whether or not you can count them as cheating in a relationship. No, I say you go right ahead, honey. Less work for mama. Gives me time to read a book or something. G'head.
"Bands on the Run" (11 p.m., VH1) It's the big first-season finale. The two remaining bands, Flickerstick and Soulcracker, go empty-head-to-empty-head for the jackpot of $50,000 in cash, new equipment, their own music video and an A&R showcase. I sure wish I cared.
"The Family Guy" (9:30 p.m., Fox) So, you thought this animated puppy was dead. Guess again. It's back after a year on hiatus and is on the Fox fall sked. Whew. The show returns with an episode that finds the family's talking dog, Brian, feeling unfulfilled. After a trip to a therapist - it's a weird show, OK? - he decides to volunteer as a dope-sniffing narc dog. It goes well, until he decides he really likes what he's sniffing. It's so sad when that happens.
"The Natural History of the Chicken" (10 p.m., PBS) It's a wry look at all things chicken and follows the lives of happy, free-range chickens and sad, cramped captive chickens awaiting their very own dinner dates. There's even a look at people out there who adore chickens, not just fried or with a creamy sauce, but as beloved pets. It's got it all: clueless optimism in the face of the unknown, plucky charm and a tragic end that sends up such a clucking that vegetarians will be weeping into their I-Can't-Believe-It's-Not-Chicken hot wings.
"Night Visions" (8 and 9 p.m., Fox) Hoping to tingle some spines, this promising new anthology series moves freely from horror to psychological drama to supernatural adventure. The character-driven series begins its run with back-to-back episodes. Segments include Aidan Quinn as a transportation official investigating a plane crash who begins to question his own sanity as he discovers unnerving details about the crash; a disc jockey (Lou Diamond Phillips) is scared by a listener with a spooky story; a family man (Gil Bellows) turns homicidal; and two med students (Samantha Mathis, Jason London) fear they have resurrected an evil voodoo priest. Oooga-booga!
"WW3" (8 p.m., Fox) Here's some really scary stuff. Timothy Hutton and Vanessa Williams star in this frightening and suspenseful 2001 TV-movie about biological terrorism. Hutton plays an FBI agent assigned to track down the origins of a sudden outbreak of a mysterious flu. The untraceable virus threatens to wipe out a quarter of the population within hours. Yeah. No pressure. Meanwhile, his partner (Williams), a biohazard expert, is thrust into ground zero and desperately tries - desperate in a sexy, sweat-on-the-brow kinda way - to find a way to stop the outbreak. Cough-cough. Uh-oh.
(M.J. Wilde writes for The Albuquerque Tribune. You can e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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