- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 5, 2005

CNN’s tsunami wrap

CNN punctuates its ongoing tsunami coverage with a new documentary looking at the most innocent of the storm’s victims.

“Saving the Children,” a documentary anchored by CNN’s Anderson Cooper and Christiane Amanpour, shares the tale of Sri Lankan orphans rescued through quick thinking and serendipity, and of a 7-year-old boy who’s reunited with his father after surviving a devastating train wreck caused by rising tides.

The special airs at 10 tonight on the cable network.

24’s‘ first four

Start the clock.

The Emmy-winning “24” kicks off its fourth season Sunday with all new terrorists, a new president and, last but not least, a new terrorist plot that Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) must undo before … who knows?

The new season begins with a two-hour installment Sunday night at 8, followed by another two-hour block at the same time the following evening.

“Day 4,” as it’s called, begins 18 months after the events of season three. (Its finale aired late last spring.) Jack, fired by the new Counter Terrorist Unit Director Erin Driscoll (Alberta Watson), finds himself working for the secretary of defense, played convincingly by veteran actor William Devane.

Along with his new job, Jack also has a new love interest — the secretary’s still-married daughter and assistant, Audrey (Kim Raver).

The new season begins with Jack heading back to CTU headquarters after a fiery commuter train explosion sparks new terrorism fears.

The show’s writers, with three suspenseful seasons under their belts, have mastered the real-time storytelling, and the four new episodes presented as back-to-back movie-length features should let even those unfamiliar with “24” jump right into the story line.

HBO’s double shot

HBO brings back its Dust Bowl battle between good and evil Sunday night along with a new series from George Clooney and Steven Soderbergh.

“Carnivale,” which earned a second season despite lukewarm ratings, proved both fascinating and ponderous at first blush. The series — starring Nick Stahl as a young man who joins a Depression-era traveling carnival and Clancy Brown as a preacher with evil in his eyes — offered dazzling production values and oodles of atmosphere. The two lead characters clearly are bound for a confrontation, but the slow-footed series likely will keep us waiting for such a smack down.

HBO teamed up last year with Mr. Soderbergh and Mr. Clooney for “K Street,” an ultimately unnecessary peek at District lobbyists. The duo’s new effort, “Unscripted,” is a strong improvement, but its subject matter (like “K Street”) seems more suited for a small demographic.

“Unscripted” follows three actors trying to get their big break in the business. The show’s jittery camera work — that’s Mr. Clooney calling the shots in episode one — captures the uneasy life actors lead, but do we really need another show about the acting profession? HBO’s “Entourage” covers similar turf, as does the upcoming Showtime series “Fat Actress.”

Watch for Frank Langella’s magnetic turn as an acting coach who doesn’t mince words, and a few pertinent cameos by “ER’s” Noah Wyle and comic actor George Lopez.

“Unscripted,” which features improv dialogue a la “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” debuts at 10 p.m., after “Carnivale.”

Now on DVD

This week’s DVD releases feature a pair of current TV favorites plus a series that never quite caught on with viewers:

CSI: Miami — The Complete Second Season features 24 episodes of David Caruso and his crime-fighting cohorts working through Florida’s criminal underground. The seven-disc set boasts featurettes on visual effects and the team’s crime labs.

Las Vegas: Uncut & Uncensored — Season One promises raw footage from the steamy NBC drama that gave star James Caan a new lease on his lengthy career. The box set features 23 episodes of the glitzy goings on at a posh Vegas casino along with a minifilm starring John Elway, Jon Bon Jovi and the show’s cast revolving around an Arena Football League story.

Millennium: The Complete Second Season sprang from the mind of “X-Files” creator Chris Carter but limped along for three seasons with little ratings success or fanfare. The six-disc set packs 23 episodes of Lance Henriksen starring as Frank Black, a brooding anti-hero who puts himself in the minds of serial killers.

Compiled by Christian Toto and Thomas Walter from staff and wire reports.

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