Wednesday, May 15, 2002
Imagine building a school playground on top of an ancient burial ground. While this may sound like the plot of a thousand monster movies, it's all too true. The "National Geographic Special: Inca Mummies, Secrets of a Lost World" (8 p.m., PBS) profiles a team of Peruvian archaeologists trying to save hundreds of mummies from being destroyed by ongoing construction and urban sprawl.
Ten years ago, more than 1,000 homeless families took over a desolate spot on the outskirts of Lima, turning a precious unexplored archaeological site into a crowded city. "Mummies" includes eerie scenes of scientists digging up the 500-year-old skeletal remains in the middle of a school playground. Some of the workers have to dodge soccer balls and scurrying children as they carefully exhume and catalog the remains of more than 2,200 individuals.
Far from the playground cemetery another archaeologist climbs more than 20,000 feet above sea level to discover the perfectly preserved mummified remains of a young girl. The scientist theorizes that she had been the victim of an elaborate human sacrifice ceremony, an offering to the mountain gods.
"Mummies" sheds new light on an Incan civilization that created a network of roads, terraced farms and remarkable architecture in some of the most forbidding mountain terrain on earth. This is a fascinating history lesson with just the right touch of the macabre.
ï¿½ Fans of director Christopher Guest's movies, including "Waiting for Guffman" and "Best In Show," love his zany documentary style. Guest act without a script. He gives his ensemble acting company a rough story outline and asks them to improvise the dialogue. Tonight's episode of "The Drew Carey Show" (8 p.m., ABC) has been shot in the same fashion. The cast were given a story outline about Drew's house being designated as a protected eagle habitat, and asked to wing it.
ï¿½ You know networks are running out of original ideas when they devote a Sweeps Special to debunking and deconstructing a Sweeps Special from last year. Remember when illusionist David Blaine spent a week in a block of ice? According to an expert known as "the disguised magician," that wasn't such a hard trick after all.
The masked man spills the beans on his fellow flim-flam men on "Magic's Biggest Secrets Finally Revealed: Escape from the Ice" (7 p.m., Fox). The tattletale will also show how famous illusionists can make a truck vanish in front of 40 eyewitnesses and how escape artists flee from the closing walls of a steel cage.
ï¿½ "The Bernie Mac Show" (8 p.m., Fox) ends its successful freshman season with an hour-long episode. Bernie takes the kids back to Chicago to attend his uncle's funeral. There, Bernie encounters his obnoxious cousin D (guest star Don Cheadle), who badgers him about investing in get-rich schemes.
ï¿½ Ed desperately tries to get between Carol and Dennis on "Ed" (7 p.m., NBC).
ï¿½ The gang makes summer travel plans on "Dawson's Creek" (7 p.m., WB).
ï¿½ Cheryl's curiosity spoils her own surprise party on "According to Jim" (7:30 p.m., ABC).
ï¿½ The globetrotting ends on a two-hour episode of "Amazing Race 2" (8 p.m., CBS).
Tonight's other highlights
ï¿½ Bonjour movie lovers! Catch the opening ceremonies of the Cannes Film Festival (12 p.m., Independent Film Channel).
ï¿½ Scheduled on "60 Minutes II" (7 p.m., CBS): the Secret Service reveals its plan to halt school shootings.
ï¿½ Josh and his lover (Mary Louise Parker) bicker over policy while Bartlet considers a rash move to stop a terrorist on "The West Wing" (8 p.m., NBC).
ï¿½ A crooked doctor is found murdered "Law & Order" (9 p.m., NBC).
ï¿½ Scheduled on "20/20" (8:30 p.m., ABC): Diane Sawyer visits the Dilley family home as the sextuplets approach their ninth birthday.