Originally created 05/10/04

TV Lookout: highlights (and lowlights) for the week

Most Manhattanites slog through traffic as if they were blindfolded. But Gerry McCambridge really is. Blindfolded. Putt-putting through Times Square on a gas-powered scooter.

Although he has a minor mishap, McCambridge emerges from this stunt in one piece, which means he is able to star in "The Mentalist," a varied display of his skill tapping into other peoples' minds (including, apparently, other motorists').

Or, at least, seeming to.

"If you're fully committed to your thoughts, you can take a leap of faith," says McCambridge, the sort of explanation that might get anyone else committed.

The NBC (WAGT-TV, Channel 26) special, airing at 8 p.m. Wednesday, introduces TV audiences to a personality who has long amused the A-list as an entertainer on the Hollywood party circuit.

Other feats: McCambridge visits a New York firehouse and predicts in which order six firefighters will slide down the pole.

Appearing in front of an audience, he recites details about one woman's long-ago first love. He even regales "American Dreams" star Brittany Snow with a little shared thinking.

Who knows how he does it, or if it's on the level? This hour of McCambridge's "hocus-knowcus" is a lot of fun.

Other shows to look out for:

- It's Mother's Day for animals too! Sunday, "National Geographic Ultimate Explorer" celebrates with two specials about moms in the wild. At 6 p.m., meet "The Lion Queen," a lioness named Scarface who is the founding female of the lion pride in Kenya's Nakuru National Park. And at 7 p.m., "Haunt of the Hippo" takes you to Kenya's Mzima Springs, where female hippos tend to their young. Then at 8 p.m. host Lisa Ling examines the impact the U.S. prison system imposes on children whose mothers are locked up, on "Mothers Behind Bars." Finally, at 9 p.m., "Search for the Afghan Girl" finds photographer Steve McCurry on the trial of the haunting, green-eyed Afghan girl he shot for a memorable 1985 National Geographic cover. Sixteen years later he finds her, a wife and mother still living in a remote area of Afghanistan. The programs air on MSNBC.

- "He just keeps tossing me a little crumb here and a little crumb there, and I keep thinking eventually I'm gonna get a whole piece of the cake." That's what wife and mother Jodie says about Buck, the husband she loves. But Buck, who has cake and is eating it too, is the crumb. He's cheating on her, and Jodie, who's done taking his guff, turns private eye to catch him in the act. "Caught in the Act" is a charming comedy-drama with a Southern twang and a tangy country-western soundtrack. Inspired by a real woman, it stars Lauren Holly as Nashville's own Sherlock Holmes. It airs on Lifetime at 8 p.m. Monday.

- To quote Donald Rumsfeld: "There is nothing that some people don't think." And after seeing "Whole," you may conclude there's no conceivable malady someone doesn't have. This shocking documentary delves deep into abnormal psychology to investigate an impulse among otherwise normal people to amputate a healthy limb. Although not found in medical textbooks, the condition is vividly described in the film by psychiatrists, as well as by numerous men from around the world who have either willfully undergone amputations or who fantasize about losing a leg to fulfill their ideal body image. This serious, sympathetic film by Melody Gilbert airs on Sundance Channel at 9 p.m. Monday.

- In November 2001, Carol Burnett set the TV world on its ear with a CBS (WRDW-TV, Channel 12) retrospective special: It drew almost 30 million viewers. Now she's back with "The Carol Burnett Show: Let's Bump up the Lights," another tribute to her comedy-variety series, which ran from 1967 to 1978. The special reunites Burnett with Harvey Korman, Tim Conway, Vicki Lawrence and Lyle Waggoner, who introduce never-before-seen clips from the off-the-cuff opening of every "Burnett" show - when Carol and the gang answered questions from the studio audience. It airs at 10 p.m. Wednesday.


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