Originally created 02/24/03

TV Lookout: highlights (and lowlights) for the week ahead

Imagine us in the aftermath of a "dirty bomb" attack: What do we do now?

This week, "NOVA" explores the implications of a disaster that many consider to be all but inevitable - a terrorist attack on a major city using a radioactive "dirty bomb" - by addressing such questions as: What exactly is a dirty bomb? How much radiation could it release? What would need to be done to clean up after an explosion? What would be the long-term economic and psychological effects?

To test the consequences of a projected attack, "NOVA" dramatizes two scenarios based on sophisticated research models: the consequences of a dirty bomb detonation in the Washington, D.C., subway system, and in Trafalgar Square, London.

"NOVA presents Dirty Bomb" airs Tuesday at 8 p.m. on PBS (check local listings).

Other shows to look out for:

- "James Patterson's First to Die" is DOA. Starring Tracy Pollan, this preposterously plotted, poorly produced whodunit could more aptly be labeled a "who cares?" A new TV film, it airs Sunday at 8 p.m. on NBC.

- After six seasons and 56 searing episodes, "Oz" viewers will gain parole with a generally satisfying, 100-minute finale Sunday at 9 p.m. EST. Over the years, this HBO prison drama has seen the casualties mount among inmates and staff alike; only last week, Warden Leo Glynn (charter cast member Ernie Hudson) was rubbed out. But what has survived throughout the run of "Oz" is its mission to tell some truths, however horrific, about the human animal. "Oz" often shocked, but that was never its purpose.

- Attention, parents of preschoolers! Monday morning, cable's TLC network launches "Ready Set Learn!" - a commercial-free, sponsor-free weekday programming block. It consists of five curriculum-based series: Scholastic's "The Magic School Bus," "Brum," "The Save-Ums" and "Hi-5," as well as Jim Henson's "Animal Jam." Host for the morning is Paz, a penguin character, whose short adventures are interlaced with the longer series. Airing Monday through Friday from 6 to 9 a.m. (EST), "Ready Set Learn!" also airs twice, starting at 6 a.m., on Discovery Kids Channel.

- In May 1960, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the sale of the contraceptive pill, a drug that would arguably have a greater impact on American culture than any other in the nation's history. Within five years, more than 6 million American women made it part of their daily lives. In the process, it allowed them to pursue careers as never before, along with fueling the women's movement and encouraging more open attitudes about sex. "The American Experience - The Pill" tells the unlikely story of how two elderly, defiant women activists, Margaret Sanger and Katharine McCormick, made it happen by engaging a biologist to do the research, then paying his bills. The film airs Monday at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings).

- Wunderbar! The first Broadway revival in nearly 50 years of the musical-comedy masterpiece "Kiss Me, Kate" was a triumph of the 2000 season. Now "Great Performances" presents the show Wednesday at 8 p.m. on PBS (check local listings). The story recounts the backstage and on-stage antics of two feuding couples during a touring production of Shakespeare's "The Taming of the Shrew." Classic Cole Porter songs include "Another Op'nin', Another Show," "So in Love" and "Wunderbar." It stars members of the London production including Brent Barrett, Rachel York, Nancy Anderson and Michael Berresse.


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