Cable dramas provide weekend substance

Oscar winners Maggie Smith and Chris Cooper star in the superior cable drama "My House in Umbria" (8 p.m. Sunday, HBO), smartly adapted from a novel by William Trevor. After a terrorist attack on a passenger train, the eccentric romance writer Emily Delahunty (Smith) invites her fellow survivors to convalesce at her villa. Each of them -- an elderly Englishman (Ronnie Barker), a young German man (Benno Furmann) and Aimee (Emmy Clarke), a mute and traumatized 8-year-old American -- has lost loved ones in the blast. Emily invites them, in part, because she had no one to lose.

Given the film's title, viewers would be forgiven if they assumed that "Umbria" was just another quaint film about strangers transformed by the postcard prettiness of sunny Italy. But they would be wrong. Sudden and subtle changes and revelations occur often in this fine film, particularly when Aimee's uncle Thomas Riversmith (Cooper) arrives to take her home. Shot on location in northern Italy, "Umbria" makes the most of its scenery.

  • Paul Newman returned to Broadway after 38 years in 2002 to appear in an engaging adaptation of Thorton Wilder's 1938 drama "Our Town" (7 p.m. today, Showtime). He plays the town's omniscient stage manager, a Godlike figure who comments on the past, present and future of the residents of Grover's Corners, N.H.

Tonight's other highlights

  • The competition goes on for 8 1/2 hours on the "All American Girl" marathon (noon, Family Channel).
  • Harrison Ford and Sean Connery team up in the 1989 sequel "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" (7 p.m. NBC).
  • Soon-to-be brides and grooms turn their big day over to friends and professional wedding planners in the new "reality" series "For Better or For Worse" (9 p.m., TLC).
  • Salma Hayek is host of "Saturday Night Live" (10:30 p.m., NBC), featuring musical guest Christina Aguilera.

Sunday's other highlights

  • Catch five hours of NASCAR action (4 p.m., Fox).
  • NBC repeats "100 Years of Hope and Humor" (6 p.m.), a two-hour salute to Bob Hope, veteran of stage, radio, movies and television. Hope turns 100 on Thursday.


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