USA thriller good enough to spawn series

The stylish TV movie "Thoughtcrimes" (8 p.m., USA) may be the first thriller about terrorism and national security to begin with a very bad date.

Way back in 1994, Freya McAllister's (Navi Rawat) biggest worry was how her prom night would end. But right in the middle of a slow dance, she gets the strangest sensation. She suddenly begins to "hear" the thoughts of her date, and the mundane musings of the couples dancing around her. She soon is overwhelmed by a cacophony of voices in her head and runs from the room.

We cut to a hospital bed and then to a mental ward, where she spends year after year, misdiagnosed as a schizophrenic. Eventually she learns to channel her inner voices by concentrating on a book so intensely that her doctors begin to think she has slipped into autism. But the handsome Dr. Michael Ward (Peter Horton) takes over her care and teaches her to focus her telepathy so she can read one mind at a time.

At first she sees the doctor as her savior, but eventually she discovers that he is working at the behest of the National Security Agency. They want to use her skills to tap the minds of terror suspects.

"Thoughtcrimes" has a cool, spooky premise. The film's depiction of Freya's "madness" is quite effective and completely disturbing. Produced by Jan DeBont ("Speed," "Twister"), "Thoughtcrimes" is a perfect setup for a weekly episodic series.

The premise is not without comic possibilities, either. At first, one of her police partners feels psychically violated and frets about her freedom to plumb his deepest thoughts. But all Freya can intuit from his particular cranium is the theme song to "Scooby-Doo," something he just can't get out of his head.

Tonight's other highlights

¢ Joan takes in a stray on "Joan of Arcadia" (7 p.m., CBS).

¢ The Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees meet in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series (7 p.m., Fox).

¢ Pam Grier stars in "Jackie Brown" (7 p.m., Bravo), director Quentin Tarantino's 1997 adaptation of Elmore Leonard's novel "Rum Punch." A game cast -- including Robert De Niro, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Forster and Bridget Fonda -- more than compensates for the film's languid pace.

¢ An emergency trip to a contagious campus on "Medical Investigation" (9 p.m., NBC).

¢ "Biography" (9 p.m., A&E;) profiles comic Andy Kaufman.

Late night

Tony Danza, Emma Roberts and Brian Regan appear on "Late Show with David Letterman" (10:35 p.m., CBS) ... Jay Leno chats with Michael Moore and Nick Cannon on "The Tonight Show" (10:35 p.m., NBC) ... Billy Bob Thornton, Dominic Monaghan and Benjy Greenberg appear on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" (11:05 p.m., ABC).

Jason Schwartzman, Jason Ritter and Sum 41 chat on "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" (11:35 p.m., NBC) ... Craig Ferguson welcomes Taking Back Sunday on "The Late, Late Show" (11:37 p.m., CBS).

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