Monday, April 19, 2004

TV's best bets

Gannett News Service


The Restaurant season-opener, 10 p.m., Channels 5, 22.

When this reality show began last summer, viewers saw chef Rocco DiSpirito and financier Jeffrey Chodorow create a posh New York restaurant in five weeks.

The place, Rocco's 22, became a hit and DiSpirito became a star. There was also the chaos and confrontation that TV requires.

Now the second round picks up six months later. The place is packed, DiSpirito's cookbook, Flavor, is selling big - and everyone seems grouchy.

Chodorow says DiSpirito is never there, is incommunicative and spends wildly. A busy place, he says, has lost $600,000.

Off-camera, DiSpirito disputes all of that. In the first couple episodes, however, he comes across as the petulant villain.

This show is assembled by Survivor and Apprentice boss Mark Burnett, with all his usual skill.

It's slickly edited, with sharp human focus. Like Apprentice, it makes many viewers care about a world they've never seen.

Worth watching

Spartacus, 6 p.m. (first half), and 8 and 10 p.m. (conclusion), USA Network. If you missed Sunday's opener, catch it at 6; then settle in for the finale. The good news is that this is a sweeping epic that's been skillfully filmed; it has a strong star (Goran Visnjic) and an important story about the real-life rebellion of Roman slaves. The bad news: The real events didn't provide a strong ending for the 1960 movie or for this admirable miniseries.

What Lies Beneath (2000), 8-11 p.m., Channels 9, 2. Michelle Pfeiffer feels there's a ghost in her home - and suspects her husband (Harrison Ford) is to blame.

Infidelity, 8 p.m., Lifetime. Imagine one of those 1940s, naughty-lady movies, spiffed up with a modern sensibility. That's what we have here, as a beautiful therapist (Kim Delaney) keeps sneaking away from her decent husband to lust with a handsome jazz musician. This movie looks and sounds great, with strong music and pulsating visuals. Still, the characters' self-destructive nature makes them difficult to care about.

Everybody Loves Raymond, 9 p.m., Channels 12, 7. Amy's parents visit for Easter.

Monster Garage, 9 p.m., Discovery. Here's a wide-open opportunity - a guy who loves mad-scientist movies and wants his home remodeled in their image. Workmen wield steel and argue a lot. Some people will consider the result fascinating; others will consider it proof that heterosexual males should be banned from interior design.

Investigating History debut, 10:15 p.m., History Channel. Sometimes, it's fun to play at history, to hear theories that can't be proved or disproved. Bill Kurtis visits a French village, where theorists insist a late priest found evidence that Jesus married Mary Magdalene and had offspring. It's mere conjecture, but the setting is beautiful and the subject is intriguing.

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