October 7, 2008

Cute, Quirky, Eerie Shows on Tap


By Frazier Moore

The Associated Press

'THE STARTER WIFE" got its start as a miniseries in summer 2007. Now it's making a fresh start as a charming 10-hour weekly series on USA.

Debra Messing returns as Molly, the lovely Hollywood wife and mother who got dumped, without notice, by her film mogul hubby for a younger-skewing sequel.

Now 40-ish, Molly is dealing with unexpected loneliness, financial cutbacks, self-doubt and, of course, loss of the high-end social status she had learned to take for granted.

Meanwhile, she's starting life over, along with daughter Jaden, who doesn't understand that a BlackBerry isn't essential gear for every child.

Back for the series is the sublime Judy Davis (Emmy winner for her role) and Chris Diamantopoulos as Molly's two best friends.

New among the regulars are David Alan Basche ("Lipstick Jungle") as Molly's ex-husband; Danielle Nicolet ("Heartland") as Molly's new friend and the wife of a baseball pro; Brielle Barbusca ("Hope & Faith") as Jaden; and Hart Bochner ("Die Hard") as the teacher of Molly's writing class - and her new love interest.

Based on the 2005 best-seller of the same name by Gigi Levangie Grazer, "The Starter Wife" premieres at 9 p.m. Friday.

Other shows to watch for:

Whom will Latinos support at the ballot box next month, and what effect will they have on the outcome?

A new documentary, "Latinos '08," explores these voters, who are less cohesive than many other voter blocs plus less likely to conform to the simple black-white categorization that has long shaped American politics.

Will John McCain manage to win back Latino defectors after the Republican Party's harsh rhetoric on immigration? Will Barack Obama land the votes of the many Latinos who supported his fellow Democrat, Hillary Rodham Clinton, during the primaries? The 2008 election will likely serve as an important indicator of the direction of Latino politics.

Among those heard from in the film are Henry Cisneros, secretary of Housing and Urban Development for the Clinton administration; columnist Ruben Navarrette Jr.; and political commentator Leslie Sanchez. "Latinos '08" was produced by Phillip Rodriguez, whose other films include "Brown is the New Green: George Lopez and the American Dream." It airs at 9 p.m. Wednesday on PBS.

She's cute, obnoxious and depraved: That's the honed-to- perfection persona of Sarah Silverman in her stand-up comedy and, more recently, on her Comedy Central sitcom. Now "The Sarah Silverman Program" is returning with new flights of freewheeling wrongness by her character (also called Sarah Silverman), a whimsical, self-consumed slacker.

In what's being billed as a two-night premiere event, new episodes air Wednesday and Thursday at 10:30 p.m.

On Wednesday, Sarah gets high for the first time and keeps track of her ideas and plans by leaving voice mail for herself on her cell phone - a ready reminder to misguide her. On Thursday, she finds out her Russian ancestors were raped by Mongolians. Concluding that even after 800 years the statute of limitations hasn't run out, she sues the entire nation of Mongolia.

Living her obliviously misspent life in the town of Valley Village, she is looked after by her sister (played by Silverman's real-life sister Laura), her gay-couple neighbors (Brian Posehn and Steve Agee) and Laura's dim-witted policeman beau (Jay Johnston). Rounding out the support system: Doug, a Chihuahua-pug mix played by Duck, Silverman's real-life pooch - and, oddly, the show's only character with a fictional name. Somehow, that figures.

As if Silverman's show weren't outrageous enough for a Thursday night, FX network steps up with a new series airing opposite her. Now, here's a gauge to help you figure out beforehand if you're likely to be amused: Are you laughing, or are you cringing, at the news that this show - which is about two best friends who make their living as subjects for a drug-and-product-testing lab - is titled "Testees"?

In each episode, these chum(p)s deal with the surprising, often humiliating side effects from their latest round as guinea pigs for the company called Testico.

On the premiere (airing Thursday at 10:30 p.m.), one of the lads displays all the symptoms of pregnancy. Funny? Consider this warning label: May induce laughter, but discontinue if gross-out persists. Steve Markle and Jeff Kassel star in "Testees," which was created by Kenny Hotz (mastermind of the raunchy competition show "Kenny vs. Spenny").

Maybe it's because Halloween is approaching, but whatever the reason, Travel Channel's "Most Haunted" presents its first-ever live broadcast - and its longest - on Friday. Yvette Fielding and the rest of the "Most Haunted" investigative team conduct a seven-hour paranormal exploration in the haunted town of Gettysburg, Pa., where for three days in July 1863, the South and North met in what became the deadliest clash of the Civil War, claiming more than 40,000 lives.

How many lost souls linger there? And are they still seeking their 15 minutes of fame?

Maybe viewers can find out by monitoring live webcams and communicating with the team via message boards and text messaging. "Most Haunted Live: Gettysburg" airs from 8 p.m. to 3 a.m.

Originally published by BY FRAZIER MOORE.

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