Originally created 10/04/04

TV Lookout: highlights (and lowlights) for the week

Not one, but two new Frankensteins are on the loose. And they come in two distinctive styles: Contemporary and Traditional.

At 9 p.m. next Sunday (Oct. 10), USA network's "Frankenstein" stars Parker Posey as a plucky New Orleans detective investigating a series of gruesome murders that eventually lead to one Dr. Victor Helios (Thomas Kretschmann), who, now two centuries old, has a newfangled plan for manufacturing a master race to take over the world. Her unlikely ally in thwarting this plot: the doctor's original monstrous creation (Vincent Perez).

Michael Madsen also stars in this stylish two-hour film, which is most distinguished by the presence of the always-appealing Posey.

But for viewers who like their "Frankenstein" more classical, Hallmark Channel presents an original miniseries it bills as the most faithful cinematic adaptation yet of Mary Shelley's macabre novel.

Airing Tuesday and Wednesday at 9 p.m., this "Frankenstein" rolls back the clock to Switzerland in the late 1700s, where Viktor Frankenstein, a brash young scientist, gets the hankering to unlock divine secrets of life and death.

He succeeds. Severed limbs and torsos stolen from a morgue are stitched together, then jolted into consciousness by a bolt of electricity. But for Frankenstein (Alec Newman) and his Creature (Luke Goss), things will only go downhill from there.

Also starring in this lush production are William Hurt as Frankenstein's professor-mentor and Donald Sutherland as the captain who rescues Frankenstein in the frozen Arctic, and hears his terrifying tale.

Other shows to look out for:

- What's next in reality TV? "The Methadone Clinic"? Don't count it out. But until then, Pax TV's "Cold Turkey" will surprise you for reasons not usually associated with reality shows: It's clever and (gulp!) inspiring. The concept: a group of 10 chain smokers is sequestered for 24 days, during which time they will be challenged, bribed and helped to kick their tobacco habit. The concept is shrewd, one reason being it's relatable to millions of viewers. Also, the forces at work here reach far deeper into each participant than the ego and greed that drive most other reality contests. Addictions will do that.

The premiere of "Cold Turkey" (10 p.m. Sunday) starts with a delicious twist. Each of the houseguests arrives thinking he or she has signed on for a different reality show, with its own challenge: finding romance; going on a safari; training for outer space. Imagine their surprise when host A.J. Benza sets them straight. But one defiant dupe, who came expecting to drive race cars, says he is willing to stay and win some fast cash. "It can't hurt me to quit smoking," he declares. We'll see!

- He had won the California presidential primary. He was headed for the Democratic nomination. But after leaving a celebration at Los Angeles' Ambassador Hotel, Bobby Kennedy was fatally shot. PBS' "American Experience" examines the remarkable life, cut tragically short at 42, of this Kennedy brother who had labored in support of President Kennedy - then, after Dallas, had forged his own path that might have carried him, as well, to the White House. The biography features interviews with numerous historians and journalists, along with personal recollections from Richard Goodwin, Nicholas Katzenbach, John Seigenthaler, Jack Newfield and Roger Wilkins, among others, and daughter Kathleen Kennedy Townsend. Written and directed by David Grubin ("Abraham and Mary Lincoln: A House Divided," "FDR" and "LBJ"), "RFK" airs 9 p.m. Monday (check local listings).

- A new edition of "PBS Hollywood Presents" pairs two 45-minute original teleplays, each taking a fresh look at ordinary people who happen to be cops. Starring Blair Brown and Jay Thomas, "Fear" depicts a community meeting between police and local residents on the verge of panic over a series of rapes in their Manhattan neighborhood. Then in "Blind Date," Detective Leonard Manzo (Richard Dreyfuss) visits a neighborhood brothel for an unexpected reason - just to find a woman he can talk to. Rosie Perez and Rita Moreno also star. The program was conceived by David Black ("Law & Order") and airs at 9 p.m. Wednesday (check local listings).


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