Thursday, November 20, 2003
What a difference a decade makes. Ten years ago, the observation of the 30th anniversary of John F. Kennedy's assassination was haunted by the controversial release of Oliver Stone's conspiracy-laden epic "JFK." The cult TV show of the era was "The X-Files," a drama dedicated to the proposition that the government was consumed with hiding everything from the people. "The truth is out there," said agent Mulder, if only we could peel away the layers of cover-ups.
The tone of the 40th anniversary is very different. The hottest show on television now is "CSI," a ghoulish drama out to prove that conjecture and theory are nothing compared to the harsh light of evidence when uncovered with the rigorous application of science.
Peter Jennings plays host to "The Kennedy Assassination -- Beyond Conspiracy" (8 p.m., ABC). This special will attempt to close the books on many conspiracy theories.
ABC promises to make viewers "an eyewitness to the crime of the century" with the special-effects magic of animator Dale Myers, who has spent the last decade creating a computer-generated reconstruction of the assassination based on maps, blueprints, physical measurements, more than 500 photographs, the Zapruder film and crime lab and autopsy reports.
Given the mountain of evidence available and the development of new forensics techniques to assess conspiracy theories, Jennings feels that the time has come for a fresh look, free of innuendo and preconceptions. "The truth is knowable," Jennings says. And that's a far cry from "the truth is out there."
- "Frontline" (8 p.m., PBS) repeats the perceptive and exhaustive profile "Who Was Lee Harvey Oswald?" If a thriller novel had invented Oswald, you would probably find him too farfetched. "Frontline" interviews Oswald's brother Robert, his New York truant officers, his colleagues in the Marines and in the Soviet Union, and several KGB handlers to paint a portrait of a troubled loner who seemed to be at the center of any number of possible plots and who was monitored by intelligence agencies on both sides of the Iron Curtain. Is it any wonder that his life and sudden death inspired countless theories?
Tonight's other highlights
- The interior design competition series "House Wars" (6 p.m., USA) wraps up its first season.
- Two contestants suffer anxiety attacks during an immunity challenge on "Survivor: Pearl Islands" (7 p.m., CBS).
- Bob and his chosen get to blab one last time about their feelings on "The Bachelor: After the Final Rose" (7 p.m., ABC).
- Martha Stewart-obsessed viewers who didn't get enough on Barbara Walters' recent "20/20" interview can sate themselves with a "Hollywood Justice" (7 p.m., Court TV) profile.
- While searching for a missing model, Catherine becomes embroiled in a media circus on "CSI" (8 p.m., CBS).
- Grace returns for her mom's birthday on "Will & Grace" (7 p.m., NBC). Hopefully Debra Messing's presence will incite some humor in this ensemble comedy. The past several episodes have been pretty laugh-free.