Originally created 06/04/06

TV highlights (and lowlights) for the week ahead



This round of "The Sopranos" started with Tony getting gunned down by his trigger-happy uncle. By the end of the season, one of his cronies got caned to death for being homosexual.

Who knows what's in store for the 12th and final episode of the season?

Previews aren't available, of course, but it's a safe bet that Tony's physical and psychic recovery won't be making any giant leaps in this last hour. He's had a tough time, since, in the first episode, his delusionary Uncle Junior shot him while he was cooking dinner.

Tony's near-death experience has only heightened his angst about himself, his empire and his family. Survival doesn't seem to have clarified any of life's mysteries, but, instead, to have brought all his pre-existing agita into even fiercer focus.

Others, too, took the season hard - notably, Vito Spatafore, who, exposed among his fellow wiseguys as a gay guy, got whacked.

The sixth-season finale, "Kaisha," premieres 9 p.m. EDT Sunday on HBO. And then... the wait begins for next year's airing of the eight concluding episodes of this magnificent series.

James Gandolfini, of course, stars as the New Jersey mob boss. Edie Falco plays his wife, Carmela.

Other shows to look out for:

- "Space Race: The Untold Story" recalls one of the 20th century's epic competitions. Beginning at the end of World War II and concluding with astronaut Neil Armstrong's "giant leap for mankind," the four-hour miniseries combines dramatizations with archival footage of successful space missions as well as deadly failures that were kept under wraps for almost 30 years. Dramatizations highlight key roles played by former Nazi Wernher von Braun for the Americans and former gulag prisoner Sergei Korolev for the Soviets - two men with complicated pasts but clear visions for the future. The United States and the USSR had made the race to space a matter of national pride and identity, if not national survival, with the ramifications clear: The first country able to launch a satellite or man into space would also be capable of launching a nuclear weapon across the Atlantic Ocean and wiping out the enemy. "Space Race" airs on National Geographic Channel at 9 p.m. Sunday and Monday.

- When Evan Zimmerman's ex-girlfriend, Kathy Thompson, was murdered on her wedding night, her new husband had a perfect alibi - one that made Zimmerman the leading suspect. Although he proclaimed his innocence, he was investigated, arrested, convicted and sent to prison for life. But three years later - with help from law students and professors at the University of Wisconsin Innocence Project - he won a new trial on appeal, and with it a second chance to clear his name. But before that happened, the prosecutor offered him a deal: plead guilty to a lesser charge and go free. "Facing Life: The Retrial of Evan Zimmerman," a two-hour documentary premiering 9 p.m. on A&E, documents his choice to reject tainted freedom in an effort to prove his innocence.

- In conjunction with Gay Pride Month, PBS' "Independent Lens" airs the documentary "The Great Pink Scare," the true story of a witch-hunt against homosexuals in an idyllic college town. On Labor Day Weekend in 1960, Massachusetts State Police troopers swept through Northampton and hauled 15 men off to jail. Three of them were professors at elite Smith College. The alleged ringleader, Professor Newton Arvin, was a renowned literary critic. The other two were junior faculty: Joel Dorius and Ned Spofford. All three were charged with possessing and dispersing obscene literature. They were tried in Northampton Superior Court and convicted as felons. Though appeals eventually ended in victory after the Supreme Court's landmark rulings against illegal searches and its redefinition of obscenity, the lives and careers of all three men were ruined. Airing Tuesday at 10 p.m. (check local listings), "The Great Pink Scare" raises issues about the right to privacy that reverberate more than 40 years later.

- An atomic research experiment goes terribly awry in a St. Louis quantum-research lab, creating an ever-expanding black hole as well as a horrendous creature that feeds on electricity. As the hole amplifies, so does the creature's path of destruction, threatening to swallow a big chunk of the country. What to do? Former colleagues at the research facility, Shannon (Kristy Swanson) and Eric (Judd Nelson), deduce that the only solution is to send this monster back to where it came from. Can they reverse the black hole and forestall widespread annihilation? That's the challenge when SciFi network presents its original movie "Black Hole" at 9 p.m. Saturday.