Originally created 03/15/04

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



"Infinity and beyond" seems to sum up the number of lawyer dramas TV is willing to put on.

Even so, "The D.A." (which, premiering at 10 p.m. Friday on ABC (WJBF-TV, Channel 6), can claim for the moment to be the latest one) is worth checking out.

Set in the Los Angeles District Attorney's office, this series stars Steven Weber as D.A. David Franks, with J.K. Simmons (best known for his recurring role as the shrink on "Law & Order") part of the large supporting cast.

The story line has the raw, jagged feel of the best British dramas, and begins with the inconvenient murder of a Russian mob witness just before he is scheduled to testify - an unfortunate setback that puts the heat on Franks and his office, which just might contain a snitch who leaked the witness' identity.

Will this investigation gone awry derail Franks' gubernatorial hopes? Considering the title of the series, could be.

But everything else about this intriguing new series will keep you guessing.

Other shows to look out for:

- The photo ops, focus groups and negative ads that Boris Yeltsin used in his successful presidential campaign were crafted in part by three American political consultants secretly ensconced in a Moscow hotel. That's how in 1996 the Associated Press wrote about Yeltsin's come-from-behind re-election, his country's first free election in 1000 years. The unlikely tale is now dramatized as political satire in a Showtime TV film called "Spinning Boris." Jeff Goldblum, Anthony LaPaglia and Liev Schreiber play the top-gun image experts who not only remake the ailing, unpopular leader's public profile but also persuade a nation to denounce Communism. The film premieres 8 p.m. Sunday.

- The neighbors thought she was a devoted mother. Her fellow citizens saw her as a pillar of the community. But you won't have to watch very long to size up Brenda Geck as pretty creepy. Kirstie Alley stars all too convincingly in this true story of a family woman accused of being a crime family's longtime mastermind. The TV film "Family Sins" airs on CBS at 9 p.m. Sunday.

- The more things change, the more they stay the same. Without necessarily meaning to, "Colosseum: A Gladiator's Story" highlights many parallels between sports culture of the ancients, and that of our own. Here were poor youths seeking fame, fortune (or at least freedom) through athletic achievement. Here were citizens obsessed with the blood sport that resulted. And here were sponsors lining up to present these competitions, in exchange for public goodwill for their political careers.

For more than 500 years, lethal gladiatorial contests dominated Roman society. Gladiators fought, often to the death, in front of 55,000 cheering spectators. And only half of these combatants were slaves; the rest were just ambitious young men trying to get ahead. This documentary includes rousing re-enactments as well as computer imagery of the magnificent new arena being built to house these contests. It airs at 9 p.m. Sunday on Discovery Channel.

- Another couple bites the dust! Barbara and Stan are getting a divorce after 25 years. Now how to break the news to their two adult children (who are still living with them at home)? And how to break the news that, even after their divorce, they plan to both keep living there, under the same roof with the kids? Robert Klein and Judith Light star as divorced but definitely not separated parents on "The Stones," a new CBS sitcom premiering at 9:30 p.m. Wednesday.

- "Wonderfalls" may be an acquired taste, but it's worth the effort of acquiring. This quirky comedy-drama centers on Jaye Tyler, an underachieving 20-something who works at a souvenir shop at the edge of Niagara Falls - and is startled to find that the shop's merchandise, along with other inanimate objects, begin to speak to her. Their unsought advice goads Jaye into getting involved in people's lives, with the intention of helping out, though often it doesn't turn out that way. Carole Dhavernas plays Jaye. "Wonderfalls" premiered 9 p.m. Friday on Fox.

- Oxygen's original movie "My Sexiest Mistake" poses the question: What happens when a romance novelist with writer's block gets set up with a male escort who really isn't one, but instead turns out to be the man of her dreams? The answer isn't as simple as it might seem considering this is a TV romantic comedy. Instead, the film, playfully full of twists and turns, stays lighthearted but is never predictable. Sabrina Lloyd ("Ed," "SportsNight") lends a sure touch to her role as an uncertain seeker of love. "My Sexiest Mistake" premieres at 8 p.m. EST Saturday.