Monday, December 29, 2003
"American Masters" (8 p.m., PBS) repeats a profile of the creator of "The Twilight Zone" and the author of several of the most acclaimed screenplays from the golden age of live television drama.
"Rod Serling: Submitted for Your Approval" begins with Serling's fatal 1975 heart surgery, presented as a scene out of "Twilight Zone." It proceeds to flashback to his acclaimed live television work, including "Patterns" and "Requiem for a Heavyweight." "Submitted" emphasizes Serling's frequent battles with networks, sponsors and censors and his harsh assessment of his own work.
Filmed entirely in black and white, this profile includes interviews with Serling's wife and daughter, as well as clips and interviews with director John Frankenheimer and actors Kim Hunter and Art Carney. The fact that these three talents have only recently died adds an unintentional "Twilight Zone" touch to this fine documentary.
- The 1980s revival is getting out of hand. In the last year we've seen VH1 regain its ratings mojo by endlessly flogging '80s trends and trivia. Donald Trump's own reality show kicks off next week. A mild miniseries called "The Reagans" sparked a firestorm of controversy. And now Robin Leach returns with "Life of Luxury" (7 p.m., ABC), a shallow celebration of people with lots of money who aren't ashamed to brag about themselves. Tonight's spendthrifts include Trump (naturally), Kimora Lee Simmons, Richard Branson and Onassis heir Athina Roussel.
- Kevin Frazier is host of "ESPN 100" (6:30 p.m., ESPN), a countdown of the top 100 sports stories of the year. Here are the top 10, in no particular order: the Tampa Bay Buccaneers go from Super Bowl champs to controversy; the BCS college playoff mess; the Florida Marlins; Lance Armstrong; the Cubs and the Red Sox make the playoffs; LeBron James; Maurice Clarett; Kobe Bryant; Carmelo Anthony; and, finally, the shadow of steroids and drug testing.
Tonight's other highlights
- Fox offers four consecutive episodes of "Malcolm in the Middle" (Fox), chosen from each of the comedy's first four seasons. In the first, Malcolm is assigned to a special school (7 p.m.); a monumental traffic jam (7:30 p.m.); Dewey's adopted dog (8 p.m.); an afternoon at the zoo (8:30 p.m.).
- Proof that pets bring out the humanity in us can be found on "Cell Dogs" (7 p.m., Animal Planet), documenting the Prison Pet Partnership Program.
- Kevin Pollak is host of an episode of "Celebrity Poker Showdown" (9 p.m., NBC), seen previously on Bravo.
Julia Roberts is on "Late Show with David Letterman" (10:35 p.m., CBS) ... Jay Leno welcomes Ben Affleck on "The Tonight Show" (10:35 p.m., NBC).