It's Iron Curtains for these dapper Brit spies

In its first episode, the fact-based "Cambridge Spies" (9 p.m. today, BBC America) re-creates the rather rancid political atmosphere of the 1930s, a time that poet W.H. Auden characterized as "a low, dishonest, decade."

Brutalized by the murderous trench warfare of World War I, many older Britons clung to the hope for peace at any cost. Members of the younger generation, however, felt they had to choose sides between Hitler's Nazi creed and Stalin's Communist crusade.

Four bright students, Guy Burgess (Tom Hollander), Anthony Blunt (Samuel West), Kim Philby (Toby Stephens) and Donald McLean (Rupert Penry-Jones) choose Stalin, a decision that will change their lives.

Ultimately, they become a quartet of traitors from Britain's elite caste who turn over thousands of secrets to their Soviet spy masters and who helped Moscow achieve atomic parity with the United States.

  • It's a wonder Ashton Kutcher has any friends at all. On last season's cable hit "Punk'd," the "That '70s Show" star won a big cable following by playing candid-camera practical jokes on fellow celebrities. In one episode, Justin Timberlake was reduced to tears after he was duped into believing that the IRS had seized his home, his car and even his dog. And to top it off, Timberlake's mother helped Kutcher set up the gag.

Kutcher returns for a second season of "Punk'd" (8 p.m. Sunday, MTV). Fans who can't wait for the fresh bouts of humiliation can catch a mini-marathon of last year's "Punk'd" starting at 6 p.m. today.

  • With Halloween less than a week away, cable networks pour on the ghoulish stunts.

AMC kicks off a week of horror-theme movies, beginning with the 1997 sequel "Alien Resurrection" (7 p.m. Sunday).

The Cartoon Network celebrates the holiday with "Adult Swim: We'll Kill You" (10:30 p.m. Sunday), featuring outlandish two-dimensional gore from the cartoon casts of "The Brack Show" (10:30 p.m.), "Aqua Teen Hunger Force" (10:45 p.m.) and "Sealab 2021" (11 p.m.).

The Animal Planet takes a kinder and gentler approach to Halloween with the original drama "Ghost Cat" (7 p.m. Sunday), about the unusual bond between a teenage girl, Natalie (Ellen Page), and the spirit of the dead cat who belonged to a dead woman (Shirley Knight) who once knew Natalie's mother. She's dead, too.

Today's highlights

  • The Yankees and Marlins meet in Game 6 of the World Series (6:30 p.m., Fox).
  • Scheduled on "48 Hours Investigates" (7 p.m., CBS): A wife copes with her husband's lies about his secret work for the CIA, another wife and even his own name.
  • The music of Tchaikovsky animates the 1959 cartoon classic "Sleeping Beauty" (7 p.m., ABC).
  • An eccentric music producer faces the specter of murder on "L.A. Dragnet" (9 p.m., ABC).

Sunday's highlights

  • Catch the first eight episodes of "Joe Schmo" (2 p.m., Spike). The faux reality series ends Tuesday.
  • Scheduled on "60 Minutes" (6 p.m., CBS): Nevada's nuclear storage controversy; stealth marketing; the siege of a Moscow theater.
  • If required, Fox will broadcast Game 7 of the World Series (6:30 p.m.).
  • Kelly Rowland guest-stars on "American Dreams" (7 p.m., NBC).
  • Mel Gibson and Helen Hunt star in the 2000 comedy "What Women Want" (8 p.m., CBS).
  • A reporter's murder may be the work of competitors on "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" (8 p.m., NBC).
  • A serial killer (Steven Weber) awaiting execution may hold key information on "The Lyon's Den" (9 p.m., NBC).
  • Eugene defends a bigot on "The Practice" (9 p.m., ABC).

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