'West Wing' goes on the road again

Can another road trip save "The West Wing" (8 p.m., NBC) from its lackluster season? As fans recall, the White House drama got off to a weak start with a two-hour season opener in which Toby (Richard Schiff) and Josh (Bradley Whitford) behaved like petulant teenagers while stranded in the great Midwest. Tonight, C.J. (Allison Janney) returns to Dayton, Ohio, for her 20th high school reunion. The White House press secretary runs into a handsome classmate (Matthew Modine, making his episodic television debut) who has made a bundle since doffing his cap and gown.

But all does not go sweetly in the Buckeye State. C.J. also comes to grips with the fact that her once bright and vibrant father (Donald Moffat) has begun to fail because of Alzheimer's disease. Fans of the Aaron Sorkin-created series should not miss this episode.

  • The folks at Fox have come up with a nifty hour of distraction for the Cro-Magnon demographic. "Man vs. Beast" (8 p.m., Fox) promises to pit upright bipeds like you and me against our four-legged companions to see who can jump higher, run faster, etc. There is no truth to the rumor (started here) that this show was invented by a thousand monkeys given a thousand typewriters and a development deal at Fox.

Tonight's other highlights

  • Bernie and Wanda worry about Jordan's lack of faith on "The Bernie Mac Show" (7 p.m., Fox).
  • Osbourne overexposure alert! Audrey takes up with her old party pals, including Jack Osbourne (as himself) on "Dawson's Creek" (7 p.m., WB).
  • The forensic history series "Secrets of the Dead" (7 p.m., PBS) looks at the evidence left behind by explorer Robert Falcon Scott's doomed 1911 attempt to reach the South Pole.
  • Scheduled on "60 Minutes II" (8 p.m., CBS): New hope, and treatment, for autistic children.
  • Connor may have fiendish connections on "Angel" (8 p.m., WB), now in its new day and time.

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