Originally created 03/12/06

TV Lookout: highlights for the week ahead



Mom's the word.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus returns to series comedy as Christine, a single mother who runs a small business and, two years after her divorce, also runs away from romance.

"I haven't even considered dating yet," she admits. "I'm still wearing my maternal underwear."

Then she discovers that her ex-husband, with whom she has enjoyed an amicable post-marriage, has found someone new. He has a serious girlfriend. Her name is Christine, too. A new Christine. Which makes his ex Old Christine.

"The New Adventures of Old Christine," which premieres on CBS with two half-hour episodes Monday at 8:30 and 9:30 p.m. EST, has valid points to make about the difficulty of a single mom re-entering the dating pool.

But the jokes are at the mercy of Louis-Dreyfus, who deserves better than self-deprecating wisecracks like "I have to stand on my head to make my boobs look good."

The former "Seinfeld" star is still adorable, sexy, funny and a great physical comedienne, just as she was as Elaine, willful loser in love. Yet "Old Christine" relegates her to the implausible role of undesirable.

Clark Gregg plays her ex-husband, Richard, and Emily Rutherford is amusing as the younger, sweet but not nearly as attractive girlfriend, "new" Christine.

There must be a newer, funnier way to cover this terrain. "Old Christine" is old hat.

Other shows to look out for:

- Too bad this guy was a pirate. He would have been a smash in any Vegas showroom. Brandishing two cutlasses across his chest, six loaded pistols in his pockets, with billowing smoke from lit fuses underneath his huge hat, and, of course, the trademark beard, Blackbeard cut quite a figure among the captains and crews of the ships he plagued during his profitable reign of terror. Now "Blackbeard: Terror at Sea" dramatically re-creates the 18th-century world he plundered, set against the story of America's colonies some 50 years before independence. With historically accurate ships and James Purefoy (Marc Antony in HBO's "Rome") in the title role, the two-hour film airs 8 p.m. Sunday on the National Geographic Channel.

- A businesswoman and divorced mother of two has worked hard to keep her family intact. But Martha faces a crisis when her 14-year-old daughter, Augusta, falls prey to self-doubt, depression and worse. The breaking point comes when, discouraged after failing an important test, Augusta is befriended by another troubled girl who encourages her self-destructive behavior and introduces her to cigarettes, drugs, alcohol and older boys. Desperate to find a solution to her daughter's problems, Martha sends the girl to a boot camp in the Idaho wilderness. But Augusta runs away. Sharon Lawrence stars in "Augusta, Gone," the story of a family's struggle and eventual victory over the daily temptations in a teenager's life. Mika Boorem plays Augusta, and Tim Matheson plays her father, as well as serving as the film's director and executive producer. It airs on Lifetime 9 p.m. Monday.

- Discovery Health Channel's "Babies: Special Delivery" has featured hundreds of high-risk pregnancies and births during the past five seasons. Now it revisits five of its most extraordinary deliveries to provide a timely update. The episode, "Growing Up," recaps the stressful moments of those births and picks up where the delivery room and maternity ward cameras left off. The youngsters include Nicholas, born with respiratory distress and put on a ventilator with little hope for survival. The program airs 9 p.m. Wednesday.

- This is no con: AMC is airing a marathon of "Hustle" - the slick, stylish British comedy-drama about a professional family of con artists (who include American emigre Albert Stroller, played by former "Man from U.N.C.L.E." Robert Vaughn). Adrian Lester, Marc Warren, Robert Glenister and lovely Jaime Murray round out the crew, which makes money as well as merry while swindling their marks. Starting 7 p.m. Saturday, episodes 7-9 will be repeated, followed by the premiere of episode 10 at the series' regular time, 10 p.m. What a score!