Monday, March 15, 2004

TV's best bets



Gannett News Service

Must-see

Cracking Up, 8:30 p.m., Channels 19, 45.

Jack Black guest stars and continues the dandy Black-and-White link.

"He's great," says Mike White, the Cracking Up producer. "He's just fun to write for."

They met when White returned to California after college. The two happened to be neighbors. White soon wrote meaty roles for Black in the movies Orange County and School of Rock.

Now comes Cracking Up, the offbeat series about a dysfunctional suburban family starring Molly Shannon and Chris McDonald. Black has a guest shot tonight.

"He plays a drug counselor who's brought into the house to scare the kids away from doing drugs," White says. "It should be funny."

Worth watching

The Green Mile (1999). 8-11 p.m., Channels 9, 2. Tom Hanks plays an earnest prison guard in 1935 with Michael Clarke Duncan as a powerful man on death row. Adapted from a Stephen King tale, this film was beautifully made, but way too long. Trimming an hour for TV should help.

Deceit, 8 and 10 p.m., Lifetime. Marlo Thomas plays a woman who's husband is lost at sea. At his funeral, political and financial scandals surface.

Sexiest Moments in Film, 8 p.m., Bravo. This three-night documentary starts with "The Seducers," and looks at movie men.

Everybody Loves Raymond, 9 p.m., Channels 12, 7. Frank's lodge has trouble getting new members. Debra, his daughter-in-law, decides to help, a fact that causes ill feelings everywhere.

Las Vegas, 9 p.m., Channels 5, 22. An escaped killer is somewhere in the hotel, seeking vengeance on Sam (Vanessa Marcil). On a much lighter note, a cheerleading convention is also there. Mary (Nikki Cox) is reunited with her old high school rival, played by Alison Sweeney of Days of Our Lives.

Average Joe: Adam Returns, 10 p.m., Channels 5, 22. In the finale of the original Average Joe, Melana Scantlin rejected likable lug Adam Mesh and chose a cutie. Now Mesh gets his own chance to choose. The producers say all of the women are viewers who fell for him during that first Joe.

World Series of Blackjack debut, 10 p.m., GSN. While her former suitor starts his show on NBC, Scantlin is on this dreary new series. She's a sort of field reporter at a casino, doing short pieces; the result is so bad that you start to think she wasn't even worthy of the average guys. Ironically, this is the day the Game Show Network - a likeable channel, overall - changes its name to GSN. Shows like this will make people assume that stands for Getting Shabby Now.



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