- The Washington Times - Monday, October 4, 2004

Final ‘Tuck’

Joan Rivers, the unofficial queen of cosmetic surgery, guest-stars on tonight’s season finale of FX’s “Nip/Tuck.”

The always engaging series stars Dylan Walsh and Julian McMahon as a pair of Miami plastic surgeons battling their inner demons along with their patients’ dilemmas.

The show airs Tuesday evenings at 10 on the cable network.

Early chills on Hallmark

Frankenstein’s monster, Mary Shelley’s ghoulish creation, is all the rage this Halloween season.

So weeks ahead of the big day, the Hallmark Channel storms out of the gate with the first of two made-for-cable films about Shelley’s monster.

Hallmark’s “Frankenstein,” a two-part miniseries beginning at 9 tonight and concluding at the same time tomorrow evening, features Alec Newman (“Children of Dune”) as Viktor Frankenstein. The miniseries taps a few more recognizable faces, including William Hurt, Julie Delpy and Donald Sutherland for key supporting roles.

The umpteenth retelling of the monster saga, however, hews more closely to the original Shelley text than the average bolts-in-the-neck yarn.

Elsewhere on cable, the monster gets another showing Sunday with USA’s “Frankenstein.” Parker Posey co-stars in the network’s contemporary spin on the tale airing at 10 p.m.

Tanner in 2004

Robert Altman and Garry Trudeau’s celebrated “Tanner” politico is returning just in time for the presidential race.

“Tanner on Tanner,” the sequel to the pair’s 1988 miniseries “Tanner ‘88,” premieres at 9 tonight on the Sundance Channel.

The limited series will air in four half-hour episodes each Tuesday in October at the same time.

The show reunites the creative force behind the project along with cast members Michael Murphy as Jack Tanner and Cynthia Nixon (“Sex and the City”) as Tanner’s daughter. The update finds Miss Nixon’s character creating a documentary on what Sundance calls “the very soul of the modern politician.”

The elder Tanner, now simply an ex-candidate, interviews real-life politicians for his daughter’s project. Expect cameos from former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, actor Steve Buscemi, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and commentators Ron Reagan and Al Franken.

Don’t be surprised by the lack of Republicans in that lineup. The partisanship of Mr. Altman and Mr. Trudeau leans heavily to the left, although their initial miniseries earned respect from both sides of the aisle.

A time to ‘Smile’

The story behind Brian Wilson’s “Smile” is the stuff of music legend.

With the long-delayed release of the ultimate pet project, Showtime offers a documentary revealing how the recording earned a second life.

“Beautiful Dreamer: Brian Wilson and the Story of ‘Smile’,” airing at 9 tonight on Showtime, gathers many of the key players from the era, including a confessional Mr. Wilson.

Directed by David Leaf, a longtime Wilson biographer who quietly nudged the singer back into the limelight in recent years, the special features the first “Smile” concert, taped in London in February.

Mr. Wilson candidly discusses the stresses that led to his mental breakdown — from his violent father to the pressures he put upon himself to keep up with the Beatles.

The one voice we long to hear but don’t is fellow Beach Boy Mike Love’s. Initially, Mr. Love butted heads with Mr. Wilson over “Smile” because (according to the special) it drifted away from the commercial Beach Boys sound.

The lack of balance hurts, but not nearly enough to capsize an involving tale that will make viewers recall their own musical youths with a touch of sadness.

At least Mr. Wilson lived long enough to finish what he started, which is more than many of his musical peers managed.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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