Web site TV for Oct. 17 – Oct. 23, 2010
TV film fare -- week of Oct. 17
Monday, Oct. 18, 8-10:45 p.m. EDT (TCM) "Oliver!" (1968). Rousing British musical drawn from Charles Dickens' "Oliver Twist" but bearing little resemblance to the original in adaptor Lionel Bart's borrowing only the chief characters and turning them loose in what amounts to a colorful, swirling-stomping-singing Cockney street show. As Fagin, rubber-faced Ron Moody carries most of the burden, with Mark Lester perfectly winning as Oliver, Jack Wild stealing scene after scene (along with handy wallets) and Harry Secombe as a bumbling Mr. Bumble. Under Carol Reed's direction, it all adds up to delightful fare for the entire family. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-I -- general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating was G -- general audiences. All ages admitted.
Wednesday, Oct. 20, 5:45-8 p.m. EDT (TCM) "I Remember Mama" (1948). Engaging, warmhearted version of the John Van Druten play in which a daughter (Barbara Bel Geddes) recalls the nurturing influence of her mother (Irene Dunne) on her Norwegian-American brood in San Francisco circa 1910. Produced and directed by George Stevens, the interplay of family life is richly depicted through good times and bad, convincingly portrayed by a cast including Oskar Homolka as the family patriarch, Ellen Corby as the spinster aunt and Edgar Bergen as her mousy beau. Sincere, affecting and universal in theme and appeal. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-I -- general patronage. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America.
Saturday, Oct. 23, 10-11:45 a.m. EDT (AMC) "Frankenstein" (1931). Stylish horror classic from Mary Shelley's novel about the obsessed Dr. Frankenstein (Colin Clive), who robs graves to complete his composite creation (Boris Karloff) that is brought to life during an electrical storm, then breaks free to the consternation of the local village. The tampering-with-nature fable succeeds largely because of Karloff's sympathetic portrayal of the monster as tormented victim and director James Whale's treatment of the ghoulish proceedings as something more than mere horror fare. Stylized violence and recurring menace. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-II -- adults and adolescents. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America.
Saturday, Oct. 23, 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. EDT (A&E) "Murder by Numbers" (2002). Creepy thriller in which two murderous high school seniors (Michael Pitt and Ryan Gosling) match wits with a fierce homicide detective (Sandra Bullock) who won't accept that the prime suspect, an apparent suicide, was the guilty party. Director Barbet Schroeder attempts character studies of the three leads to add interest but the film remains at the level of a conventional thriller. Sporadic violence, brief sexual situations and substance abuse, some rough language and minimal profanity. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was L -- limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating was R -- restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.
Saturday, Oct. 23, 11:45 a.m.-1:30 p.m. EDT (AMC) "Dracula" (1931). Antiquated but venerable horror classic from the Bram Stoker novel about the dreaded vampire Count Dracula (Bela Lugosi), who leaves his Transylvanian castle to take up residence in England where a trail of bloodless corpses lead to his undoing by the determined Professor Van Helsing (Edward Van Sloan). Director Tod Browning establishes the vampire premise with macabre gusto, then bogs down in stilted English settings, but for all its dated qualities, this early talkie still evokes goose bumps in the struggle to overcome evil. Restrained menace with off-screen violence. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-II -- adults and adolescents. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America.
Saturday, Oct. 23, 8-10:30 p.m. EDT (HBO) "Invictus" (2009). Uplifting sports drama, based on actual events, about South African President Nelson Mandela's (Morgan Freeman) campaign to unite his country behind the national rugby team (led by Matt Damon), once a widely hated symbol of white privilege under apartheid, as it became an unlikely contender in the 1995 World Cup competition. Adapted from John Carlin's book, "Playing the Enemy," director Clint Eastwood's account effectively chronicles how Mandela transformed the race for the championship into an opportunity to break down lingering racial prejudice and to demonstrate the generosity and openness to reconciliation of the newly empowered black majority. It's a salutary tale whose moral and artistic merits counterbalance the elements listed below, making it probably acceptable for mature teens. Brief scenes of violence, at least one use of the F-word, a few instances of crude and crass language and some mild sexual references. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating was PG-13 -- parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.
TV program notes -- week of Oct. 17
Sunday, Oct. 17, 3:30-6:30 a.m. EDT (EWTN) "Canonization of Blesseds (Live)." At this Mass, broadcast live from Vatican City, Pope Benedict XVI will canonize Blessed Andre Bessette of Canada and Blessed Mary MacKillop of Australia as well as four others. The liturgy will be rerun noon-3 p.m. EDT.
Sunday, Oct. 17, 10-11 p.m. EDT (EWTN) "A Hand of Peace: Pope Pius XII and the Holocaust." This documentary, featuring interviews with David Novak, Ron Rychlak and others, combats misinformation about Pope Pius XII's actions during the Second World War, presenting evidence that the pontiff did much to help Jews.
Tuesday, Oct. 19, 8-9 p.m. EDT (PBS) "Building the Great Cathedrals." This season premiere of the series "Nova" looks at the technology that enabled medieval builders to erect the greatest architectural monuments of the age of faith: vast churches that were carved from 100 million pounds of stone and soar effortlessly atop a spider web of masonry (TV-G -- general audience).
Tuesday, Oct. 19, 9-10 p.m. EDT (PBS) "Death by Fire." A special examining the conviction and 2004 execution of Cameron Todd Willingham for the arson death of his three young children in light of new science that raises doubts about whether the fire at the center of the case was really arson. A "Frontline" presentation.
Wednesday, Oct. 20, 9-10 p.m. EDT (PBS) "A Broadway Celebration: In Performance at the White House." This music special features a series of performances by established Broadway artists and new talent, presenting selections from American musicals that reflect the spirit, energy and ambition of America. The program is emceed by Nathan Lane and includes Idina Menzel, Brian d'Arcy James, Audra McDonald, Chad Kimball, Marvin Hamlisch, Karen Olivo, Tonya Pinkins, Assata Alston and a youth ensemble from the Joy of Motion Dance Center (TV-PG -- parental guidance suggested).
Wednesday, Oct. 20, 9-11 p.m. EDT (History) "I'm Alive." A documentary recounting the events surrounding the 1972 air crash in the Andes Mountains that claimed the lives of many of the 45 rugby players aboard. Nando Parrado, one of 16 survivors, tells how he and his teammates were eventually forced to resort to cannibalism to remain alive.