- The Washington Times - Monday, March 28, 2005

Shatner’s ‘Invasion’

William Shatner knows the joke is usually on him. So the erstwhile James T. Kirk is riding his kitschy image all the way to a new television and film career.

Tonight, he’ll attempt to pull the wool over the eyes of an entire town in “Invasion Iowa,” debuting at 9 on Spike TV.

The five-hour miniseries, which continues in the 9 p.m. slot through Friday, finds Mr. Shatner staging a faux movie shoot in Riverside, Iowa — a picturesque Midwestern town with only 978 residents.

The series spoofs not only Mr. Shatner’s image, but also makes fun of Hollywood movies and reality TV. It also gently mocks the locals who believe they will be appearing as extras in the film.

Mr. Shatner and his crew chose Riverside as their target since it’s the “future” birthplace of his Capt. Kirk character.

New on DVD

The twisty parables of “The Twilight Zone” are as much the topic of conversation today as they were during its five-year run on CBS from 1959 to 1964.

The Rod Serling series taught us all about unexpected endings; always blending science fiction with the surreal to make us think a bit harder about societal norms.

The SciFi Channel — which airs “Zone” reruns — recently offered a marathon of the critically acclaimed show. Now die-hard fans can continue that momentum with a new box set, out today, of the show’s early years.

“Twilight Zone: The Definitive Edition — Season Two,” features 29 episodes of the groundbreaking series (Billy Mumy, William Shatner, Don Rickles and Dennis Weaver are among the many guest stars) on five discs.

Also arriving on DVD this week is another CBS favorite, “Murder, She Wrote: The Complete First Season.”

The show (1984 to 1996) starred Angela Lansbury as Jessica Beatrice McGill Fletcher, a mystery writer who uses her literary skills to fight crime. The new DVD release features the two-hour pilot plus 21 episodes.

“Murder’s” cast included Tom Bosley, Tom Poston and Claude Akins, plus a rotating stable of familiar faces such as Gabe Kaplan and John Astin.

Force of nature

PBS’ “Nova” series is examining the Dec. 26 tsunami, a disaster that killed hundreds of thousands and devastated communities around the Indian Ocean.

“Wave that Shook the World,” airing at 8 tonight on WETA-TV (Channel 26), analyzes the damage caused by the undersea slippage of the Earth’s crust along a 700-mile-long fault off the Sumatran coast, Associated Press reports.

The hourlong program will be followed at 9 by “Krakatoa,” a dramatic 90-minute re-enactment (bolstered by computer-generated animation) of the May 20, 1883 volcanic eruption that reduced the island of Krakatoa to a third of its former size, and sent waves in excess of 100 feet high crashing onto Asian shores, killing 36,000.

“Krakatoa’s” animation will show how the eruption lifted the sea floor and the water resting on it — causing a series of waves that spread out from the epicenter at speeds nearing that of a passenger jet.

The 19th-century disaster was even more powerful than the recent tsunami. Debris from the eruption was flung around the world and caused vibrant sunsets for years.

Climb forgotten ‘Hill’

It’s been nearly 20 years since Oliver Stone’s “Platoon” hit movie theaters, setting the gold standard not only for realistic war films but for future cinematic takes on the Vietnam War.

“Hamburger Hill,” produced the following year in 1987, was one of them.

The movie (airing at 10 tonight on cable’s AMC) recalls the harrowing struggle of a squad of 14 Army recruits in the 101st Airborne Division as they attempt to take over Dong Ap Bia, a small mountain in Vietnam’s A Shau Valley. The struggle began May 10, 1969 and continued through May 20. Dong Ap Biawasmarked on the maps as hill 937, a reference to its height in meters. It was given the nickname “Hamburger Hill” because its rough terrain chewed up soldiers like chopped meat.

“Hill” didn’t generate as much attention as “Platoon,” but viewers can judge for themselves whether its realistic depiction measures up to Mr. Stone’s 1986 film.

“Hamburger Hill’s” cast includes Anthony Barrile, recent Oscar-nominee Don Cheadle (“Hotel Rwanda”) and Courtney B. Vance of NBC’s “Law & Order: Criminal Intent.”

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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