True-crime drama really raises Cain

Superman becomes a super creep in the true-crime drama "The Perfect Husband: The Laci Peterson Story" (7 p.m., USA). Dean Cain ("Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman") stars as Scott Peterson, the now-notorious husband who reported his wife, Laci, missing on Christmas Eve 2002, only to become the suspect in her murder.

Much like a recent drama about the Washington, D.C., beltway snipers, "Perfect" rehashes some very oft-covered news and delivers its dramatic verdict in advance of the alleged killer's trial. Unlike that earlier film, "Perfect" does an effective job of exploring the emotional reactions of Scott and Laci's circle of family and friends as their feelings toward Scott evolve from shock, grief and empathy to suspicion and loathing.

Cain is very good as the icy suspect at the center of a legal storm and media circus. His detached phone calls to his deceived mistress, Amber (Tracy Middendorf), are particularly chilling. Given the fact that Peterson has not admitted guilt or been convicted of any crime, the filmmakers resist the temptation to "show" us his culpability through grisly flashbacks. Scott maintains his innocence throughout, even while evidence mounts against him and his own behavior becomes increasingly cold and off-putting.

  • What do you air two days after the Westminster Dog Show and the night before Valentine's Day? How about "National Geographic Presents: When Animals Attract" (8 p.m., Fox), a documentary look at the mating habits and rituals of critters. Talk about doing the wild thing!
  • Did you know that the father of our country was also an architect and inventor? Steve Thomas ("This Old House") is host of "Save Our History" (7 p.m., History) look at George Washington's workshop. Martin Sheen provides the voice of Washington.

Tonight's other highlights

  • God puts the kibosh on a White Stripes concert date on "Joan of Arcadia" (7 p.m., CBS).
  • Scheduled on a two-hour episode of "Dateline" (7 p.m., NBC): a murder charge against the husband of an accident victim is hard to prove until police discover an eerily similar event in his past.
  • Corbin Bernsen, Cindy Williams and Brett Butler are among the wordsmiths featured on "Celebrity Spelling Bee" (7 p.m., Fox).
  • A serial killer (Annabella Sciorra, "The Sopranos") preys on men provided by a dating service on "The Handler" (9 p.m., CBS).
  • Scheduled on "20/20" (9 p.m., ABC): sexual harassment at the U.S. Air Force Academy; an interview with Ellen DeGeneres; "reality TV" marriages; serial killer chic.

Late night

Brian Regan appears on "Late Show with David Letterman" (10:35 p.m., CBS) ... Jay Leno welcomes Diane Keaton, Sen. John Edwards and Starsailor on "The Tonight Show" (10:35 p.m., NBC).

Jim Carrey, Eric McCormack and Barenaked Ladies chat on "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" (11:35 p.m., NBC).


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