Ugly Americans running rampant overseas

Thursday, June 12, 2003

Tonight's television offers us two different perspectives on Americans abroad.

The gang on "Amazing Race 4" (7 p.m., CBS) continues to stumble through far-flung tourist attractions, panting under the weight of their backpacks and shouting at foreigners (in English) for help with their contrived game of capture the flag. Call me cranky, but they behave like the worst stereotypes of rude American tourists.

"Frontline/World" (8 p.m., PBS) presents a quirky and unsettling example of popular anti-American sentiment. Correspondent Arun Rath ventures to India to catch a performance of a popular opera about Osama bin Laden and the events of Sept. 11, 2001. After receiving a warm welcome from the cast and the show's producers, Rath is horrified to discover that the play presents bin Laden in a sympathetic light, a sentiment shared by much of the audience. Other "Frontline/World" segments look at SARS, as well as the political and economic chaos in Venezuela. That nation's embattled president, Hugo Chavez, sits down for an interview.

Tonight's other highlights

Series notes

Phoebe fabricates a love life on "Friends" (7 p.m., NBC) ... "Stupid Behavior Caught on Tape" (7 p.m., Fox) ... Competitive surgery on "Scrubs" (7:30 p.m., NBC) ... Amateur acts, delivered with dispatch, on "30 Seconds to Fame" (7:30 p.m., Fox) ... Barry blossoms on "Will & Grace" (8 p.m., NBC).

Late night

Harrison Ford and Annie Lennox appear on "Late Show with David Letterman" (10:35 p.m., CBS) ... Jay Leno welcomes Jennifer Aniston, Tyler Florence and Sugar Ray on "The Tonight Show" (10:35 p.m., NBC).