It's Iron Curtains for these dapper Brit spies

Saturday, October 25, 2003

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.

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.

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

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