New reality setting in

February sweeps are over, and I hope never to see Michael Jackson's face(s) again for the rest of my life. I'm thinking of creating my own reality show: "I'm a TV Critic -- Get Me Out of Here!"

Reality of a grimmer sort emerges tonight. Two documentary series remind us that the world is at war and has been for some time.

  • With so much attention focused on Iraq, you can forget that thousands of American troops are still stationed in Afghanistan, sent there to rebuild that divided nation and ferret out terrorists still loyal to al-Qaida. The six-part series "Profiles from the Front Line" (7 p.m., ABC) offers first-person accounts from U.S. military men and women and Special Forces stationed in the Kabul, Bagram, Orgun and Kandahar regions of Afghanistan.

In tonight's episode, a camera crew rides shotgun as the Special Forces capture an al-Qaida member and turn him over for questioning. Members of the regular Army reveal the more mundane and lonely aspects of overseas duty. One soldier, who left a Wall Street accounting job to join the military after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, discusses his job establishing refueling centers for Army vehicles and Apache helicopters.

  • Young Israelis and Palestinians discuss how they cope with uprisings, occupation and random violence in the documentary "True Life: I Live in a Terror Zone" (9 p.m., MTV). One Israeli talks about his mother's murder at the hands of terrorists, a Palestinian girl talks about how she rarely leaves the house to avoid the bloodshed, and another Israeli complains about how her friends and family don't understand her peace activism.

Tonight's other highlights

  • Catherine investigates a possible "snuff film" killing on "CSI" (8 p.m., CBS).
  • Tales of forensic science on "The Pulse" (8 p.m., Fox).
  • After a psychotic episode, a troubled teen disappears from a mental hospital on "Without a Trace" (9 p.m., CBS).

Series notes

Gender wars on "Survivor" (7 p.m., CBS) ... Off-key performances on "American Idol: The Best of the Worst" (7 p.m., Fox) ... The fates pay a visit on "Sabrina, the Teenage Witch" (7 p.m., WB).

A visiting doctor (Jay Mohr) betrays a secret on "Scrubs" (7:30 p.m., NBC) ... Sissy goes on a date on "Family Affair" (7:30 p.m., WB).

Down to 32 on "Are You Hot? The Search for America's Sexiest People" (8 p.m., ABC).

Late night

Tom Arnold and Carmen Electra appear on "Late Show with David Letterman" (10:35 p.m., CBS) ... Jay Leno welcomes Ellen DeGeneres, George Foreman and DMX on "The Tonight Show" (10:35 p.m., NBC).


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