Cable TV tries, tries again

Trials and tribulations abound. Viewers have their choice of two legal standoffs -- one involving the King of Kings, the other concerning the Bronx Bombers.

"The Trial of Jesus" (8 p.m., History) makes a scholarly examination of the evidence available about the treatment of Jesus by the Roman and local Jewish authorities in the days leading up to his crucifixion. Using the best information available, "Trial" attempts to get inside the minds of Christ's contemporaries to determine just what might have unfolded at these proceedings. "Trial" also offers dissenting voices from those who argue that there is simply not enough evidence to support the Gospels.

"Pontius Pilate: The Man Who Killed Christ" (9 p.m., History) follows, with a look at the Roman Empire's man in Judea, who presided over Christ's fateful arraignment. Was he one of history's great villains or merely an imperial bureaucrat caught in a bitter local fight?

  • Catherine Crier presides over "Break Up the Bombers: The Yankees on Trial" (6 p.m., ESPN). This "mock" trial offers the cases for and against the New York Yankees' practice of outspending every other team in the major league to assemble the most formidable lineup. Will the Yankee's $180 million payroll make the major league season and postseason merely academic?

Attorney and Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz acts as prosecutor and makes the case against the team, while the mob-affiliated barrister Bruce Cutler states the case for the defense. Comedian Billy Crystal will provide taped segments, presumably in defense of his beloved team. Former Yankee Jim Bouton and Oakland A's General Manager Billy Beane will offer expert testimony.

Tonight's other highlights

  • Tru fears she's lost her touch on "Tru Calling" (7 p.m., Fox).
  • An emergency trip north of the border on "Wonderfalls" (8 p.m., Fox).
  • After a heroic rescue, a firefighter vanishes on "Without a Trace" (9 p.m., CBS).
  • Scheduled on "PrimeTime" (9 p.m., ABC): deplorable conditions inside America's largest Veterans Administration hospitals.

Late night

Viggo Mortensen and Sting appear on "Late Show with David Letterman" (10:35 p.m., CBS) ... Jay Leno welcomes Matthew Perry and William Hung on "The Tonight Show" (10:35 p.m., NBC).

Cedric the Entertainer and Yoshi Amao chat on "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" (11:35 p.m., NBC).

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