Originally created 05/24/04

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

The death toll so far is nearly 800 victims of a virus released in a Los Angeles hotel. More of the deadly virus is due to be released within minutes, guaranteeing countless more deaths.

A man carrying a vial of the stuff has been tracked to an L.A. subway tunnel. Can he be seized and the vial secured in time?

It's just another day of overtime in Jack Bauer's hectic life as the Fox nail-biter "24" reaches the final hour - noon to 1 p.m. - of the 24-hour stretch that viewers have been tracking all season.

Even if you've let the season slip by, you now know all you need to know to get your heart rushing when the "24" finale airs at 9 p.m. EDT Tuesday. (One more thing: Sherry Palmer, the underhanded ex-wife of President David Palmer, took a bullet last week. It looks like she, at least, won't be a problem anymore.)

Kiefer Sutherland stars as Bauer and Dennis Haysbert is beleaguered President Palmer.

Other shows to look out for:

- The revolution won't just be televised - it consists of the TV shows themselves, according to a five-part Bravo series. "TV Revolution" explores groundbreaking moments on TV and the evolving picture they have given the TV audience in the areas of homosexuality, women, sex, race and violence. Along with clips, the series hears from actors, producers and directors who helped create the revolution (sometimes without meaning to).

The first two hours air Sunday, beginning at 9 p.m. EDT with "Out of the Closet," which tracks how homosexuality went from a formerly taboo topic to the central theme of certain current series such as "Will & Grace" and "Queer as Folk." At 10 p.m., "Maids, Babes & Mothers" explores the changing roles of women on TV - and the changing roles for the actresses playing those characters.

At 9 p.m. Monday, it's "Sex in the Box." Same time Tuesday, race is examined on "Black & White & Living Color." And Wednesday, "Body Count" takes a look at violence on the tube.

- Ever wonder what happens to someone who dies leaving no next-of-kin to dispose of the deceased's body? "A Certain Kind of Death" proves this to be a fascinating question. Despite the sad subject and a number of grisly scenes, filmmakers Grover Babcock and Blue Hadaegh somehow infuse their documentary with dignity and a touching lyricism. Airing 9 p.m. Monday on the Sundance Channel, it makes posthumous stars out of hapless Angelenos like Ronald Tanner and Tommy Albertson. And it shows how their lonely passing is handled with reassuring efficiency by the L.A. officials charged with settling their affairs. Thanks to a system that seems to really work, you come away feeling these forgotten will rest in peace.

- A serial killer terrorized prostitutes in the Iranian holy city of Mashhad for a year beginning in July 2000, claiming 16 victims. Called the "Spider Killings," the murders ended with the arrest of Saeed Hanaei, who until his execution in April 2002 spoke with pride of ridding society of these immoral women. The starkly gripping documentary "And Along Came a Spider" explores those crimes, the society in which they occurred, and the psyche of the killer, a 39-year-old building contractor and family man. Visited in prison, he describes himself as a martyr carrying out God's will - and he isn't alone in this heroic assessment. The film airs 7 p.m. Tuesday on Cinemax.

- Hanging chads! Voter irregularities! Supreme Court ruling! Wait - that was the 2000 presidential election. But election night at "American Idol" can be controversial, too. (So why COULDN'T Fox cough up money for enough phone lines?) This week marks the season conclusion of this amateur hour writ large. Episodes air at 8 p.m. on Tuesday and on Wednesday, when one of the two finalists will be crowned the newest Idol. Get ready to place your vote after Tuesday's edition. And good luck getting through.

EDITOR'S NOTE - Frazier Moore can be reached at fmoore(at)ap.org


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