Gannett News Service
American Masters: Judy Garland: By Myself,
9-11 p.m., Channels 48, 16.
American Masters easily towers above other TV biographies. It is richly researched, beautifully written, and elegantly edited. Now comes a consummate example, which has been superbly directed by Masters creator Susan Lacy. Before her death, , Judy Garland recorded comments intended for an autobiography. Those comments, revoiced by actress Irene Keating, are used sparingly. We hear Garland's words about her child-star days when she was stuffed with pills. "That's the way we got mixed up," she said. "And that's the way we lost contact with the world." Still, Masters doesn't wallow. Much of it focuses on Garland's singing and acting talent.
Beah: A Black Woman Speaks, 7:30 p.m., HBO. In her 80 years, Beah Richards ranged from civil rights activism to brilliant acting performances. Actress Lisa Gay Hamilton taped 70 hours of interviews, then molded this documentary.
My Wife and Kids, 8 p.m., Channels 9, 2. With everyone sick, Michael wants to stay healthy to use his basketball tickets. LeBron James stars.
In Search of Shakespeare, 8 p.m., Channels 48, 16. When Queen Elizabeth died in 1603, Shakespeare was at his peak. He had just opened Hamlet. Othello, King Lear and Macbeth were coming in the next three years. Shakespeare soared, added a second theater, and even became one of King James' personal players. Still, the king's anti-Catholic venom grew; Shakespeare, from an activist Catholic family, had to be careful. That story is skillfully told in the finale to this four-hour film.
Barbershop (2002), 8:15 p.m., Showtime. Ice Cube and Cedric the Entertainer star in this comedy, placed here as a lead-in for the Soul Food season-opener.
The West Wing, 9 p.m., Channels 5, 22. In the middle of a tough talk show, C.J. learns that the former vice-president is preparing a bombshell book, attacking the president. Meanwhile, people argue about school vouchers, the closing of a military base and import safety requirements for brassieres.
Soul Food, 10 p.m., Showtime. The fifth and final season starts powerfully. Ahmad (Aaron Meeks) has been mistakenly arrested, shattering his view of life. One monologue by his dad (Rockmond Dunbar) is superbly written and acted. Another plot has Lem (choreographer Darrin Henson) trapped between two strong figures, played by Jim Brown and Michael Warren.
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