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In Brief: Galileo's Battle for the Heavens, and more . . .

John Leonard reviews Galileo's Battle for the Heavens, 24, Woodie's World, The Topdog Diaries, Carrie, and The Pact

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  • Galileo's Battle for the Heavens (October 29; 8 to 10 p.m.; Channel 13), adapted from Dava Sobel's enthralling book Galileo's Daughter, stars Simon Callow as the sixteenth-century astronomer whose difficulties with the Roman Catholic Church were complicated by the fact that his illegitimate daughter happened to be a cloistered nun.

  • 24 (October 29; 9 to 10 p.m.; Fox) begins its second frenetic season with a bereft Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) summoned back to service by new president Dennis Haysbert. Never mind that his daughter's in more big trouble; Islamofascists are about to level L.A. with a nuclear device. Note, besides all the blondes, a glorious absence of commercials.

  • Woodie's World (October 31; 7 to 7:30 p.m.; ESPN Classic) repackages Heywood Hale Broun's 1966–75 CBS sports reports, as colorful as his jackets, in thirteen half-hours featuring the likes of Ted Williams and Muhammad Ali coming out of retirement and exile, minor-league football, horses and walkers. Woodie's longtime producer Bud Lamoreaux is the host.

  • The Topdog Diaries (October 31; 10 to 11 p.m.; Channel 13) sends Stage on Screen behind the scenes of the Public Theater's production of Topdog/Underdog, with Don Cheadle and Jeffrey Wright, and the personal life of playwright Suzan-Lori Parks, whose smile is bigger than Mary Tyler Moore's and who married a blues musician in the middle of all this other excitement.

  • Carrie (November 4; 8 to 11 p.m.; NBC), with Angela Bettis and Patricia Clarkson very good indeed as the bullied teen with telekinetic powers and her religious-maniac mother, is Stephen King all over again, only a little more explicit and equally prescient about high-school violence.

  • The Pact (November 4; 9 to 11 p.m.; Lifetime) asks Megan Mullally, Juliet Stevenson, Bob Gunton, and Henry Czerny to cope as parents with what appears to have been a suicide pact between their teenagers. From the novel by Jodi Picoult.


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