Fox's flatfoots continue to stomp competition

What Fox show still dominates its time period after 15 years on the air? If you guessed "The Simpsons," you would be wrong. "Cops" (7 p.m. today, Fox) premiered in March 1989 and has been on Saturday nights ever since. Last Saturday night, both "Cops" and "America's Most Wanted" were two of the most popular shows on network television, besting a slate that included movies starring Mel Gibson and Bruce Willis. The two law-and-order reality series also beat a repeat of "Amazing Race" and an original episode of "Big Brother."

Nothing if not consistent, "Cops" features a steady diet of pixilated perpetrators at their worst, and often at their most inebriated and brazenly self-deceptive. Tonight's "Cops" episodes concern a highway chase (7 p.m.) and a shovel-wielding suspect (7:30 p.m.). Whatcha gonna do?

For those who enjoy a parody version of "Cops," Comedy Central offers eight consecutive episodes of the spoof series "Reno 911" between 7 p.m. and 11 p.m.

  • Jake Gyllenhaal, Chris Cooper and Laura Dern star in the 1999 drama "October Sky" (7 p.m. today ABC), about boys from hardscrabble coal country who aim for the stars.
  • How dismal is the 2002 drama "The Pilot's Wife" (8 p.m. Sunday, CBS)? It begins with a plane crash and goes downhill from there.

"Wife" stars the capable Christine Lahti as Kathryn Lyons, who learns in the opening scene that her pilot husband, Jack (John Heard), has been killed under mysterious circumstances. We also discover that Jack (seen in frequent flashbacks) picked up more than frequent-flyer miles along the way. Was Jack a criminal? A two-timer? A liar? A cad? A bad dad? The novel "A Pilot's Wife" was an Oprah Book Club selection. You do the math.

Tonight's other highlights

  • Matt Damon, Jude Law and Gwyneth Paltrow star in "The Talented Mr. Ripley" (7 p.m., NBC), director Anthony Minghella's pretty, if belabored, 1999 adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's novel of envy, murder and stolen identity on the Italian Riviera.
  • The incarceration continues on "Big Brother 5" (8 p.m., CBS).

Sunday's other highlights

  • Scheduled on a two-hour "Dateline" (6 p.m., NBC): Guatemalan conjoined twins separated two years ago; a follow-up visit to Elian Gonzalez; dishonest car salesmen; crooked matchmakers; a 13-year-old boy's tales of hardship move the residents of Salt Lake City, Utah.
  • Lynne Whitfield appears on "Strong Medicine" (8 p.m., Lifetime).
  • Cooper does some soul searching on "The Days" (9 p.m., ABC).


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