Thursday, August 5, 2004

TV Best

Gannett News Service


My Uncle Berns, 7:30 p.m., HBO.

Billy Crystal was 15, at his father's funeral, when he saw his Uncle Bernhardt Crystal shine.

Berns, as friends called him, was deep in despair for his brother. Still, he felt the grief was too thick. Soon he was telling jokes and doing magic tricks.

This was typical, Crystal says. This is a "huge, funny, incredibly charming, take-over-a-room ... kind of person."

Berns has known life's dark side, too. He was at Normandy on D-Day; he was in his apartment, two blocks from the World Trade Center, on Sept. 11, 2001.

But the 89-year-old has chosen a life of joy, as an artist, an art dealer and a jubilant friend. Lindsay Crystal, Billy's daughter, began filming him.

"My intention (was) just to have it for me, for my family, to be watching on Thanksgiving maybe," she says. "And I'd have it for my kids."

Then it became much more. She weaved in old photographs and new reflection. She even animated some of Berns' drawings.

The result is a documentary that goes far beyond one family and captures human depth.

Worth watching

Will & Grace, 8 and 8:30 p.m., Channels 5, 22. This two-parter follows a pair of plots. In one, Will and Grace launch their scheme of buying and selling apartments with Jack as their first target. In the other, Karen is just getting back with Lyle (John Cleese), when she collides with his daughter, who is her ex-rival (Minnie Driver).

Blue Collar TV, 8 p.m., Channels 64, 26. Nakedness, Jeff Foxworthy tells the audience, only looks good with "little kids running around a yard or big girls dancing around a pole." That sets up a sketch about a lad who is blinded when seeing his grandmother naked.

In the Heat of the Night (1967), 8 p.m., Turner Classic Movies. Sidney Poitier and Rod Steiger - as a sharp, big-city police detective and a bigoted, small-town cop - made this one of the best-acted films in Hollywood history. It's part of an all-day Poitier marathon, including Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (also 1967) at 6 p.m. and Duel at Diablo (1966) at 10.

Last Comic Standing, 9 p.m., Channels 5, 22. Tonight, we learn how viewers voted, trimming the field from six to three.

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, 9 p.m., Channels 12, 7. Catherine investigates, after a baby dies in a car on a hot day.

Without a Trace, 10 p.m., Channels 12, 7. A firefighter disappears shortly after rescuing two people.

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