Tuesday, June 15, 2004

TV's best bets

By Mike Hughes
Gannett News Service

Must see

The Shield, 10 p.m., FX.

This fierce series wraps up its 15-episode season powerfully. Problems began when Vic's team of rogue cops stole a fortune from the Armenian mob. The cover-up has been tough. Last week, one cop panicked and burned most of the money.

Now the mobsters are closing in demanding money that no longer exists. There is a showdown, skillfully ending a superb season.

Sex and the City, 10 p.m. and 10:35 p.m., TBS.

From the moment it premiered on HBO in 1998, Sex was a fresh force. Its scripts were inconsistent, but everything else - the uptown look, the dandy cast, the frank sex and language - was impressive.

Now the show moves in syndication to basic-cable, censored mildly. TBS will air what it calls 10 key episodes over the next five days. Then episodes will run in order at 10 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. Tuesdays, repeating the same ones at the same times on Wednesdays.

Can Sex survive the censors? Tonight's first episode - a fairly good one with Carrie modeling at a charity show - shows characters can still have lots of frank talk, as long as they keep their clothes on. Fans can also visit www.tbs.tv to join a Sex fan club, and access exclusive materials including new writing from Candace Bushnell, the author whose work launched the series.

Worth watching

Next Action Star, 8 p.m., Channels 5, 22. On Monday, viewers saw auditions overflowing with fit and attractive young men and women. Now 30 of them have been chosen to go to Los Angeles. Only 10, however, will then get to stay in the mansion for a weekly competition.

The Bernie Mac Show, 8 and 8:30 p.m., Channels 19, 45. In the first episode, Bernie and his wife disagree on whether Bryanna needs a therapist. In the second, Jordan drops out of basketball. Shaquille O'Neal has a brief role.

In Tune, 8 p.m., VH1. Singer-songwriter John Mayer meets and sings with the guy he grew up admiring, Paul Simon.

The Jury, 9 p.m., Channels 19, 45. A man arranged a marriage-by-mail with a young woman from the Philippines. Now he's accused of murder.

Blow Out, 9 p.m., Bravo. The second hour of this reality show begins on the eve of a grand-opening party for Jonathan Antin's fancy Beverly Hills hair salon, which might not be ready in time. Celebrities include actors Peter Reckell and Kate Bosworth.

Joe Schmo 2, 10 p.m., Spike TV. Last year's Schmo was a wonderful twist on reality TV: One real guy didn't know everyone else was an actor, satirizing reality contestants. Can it do it again? We'll see. This one is a pretend dating show with two real people - one male, one female - surrounded by fakes.

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