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In Brief

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The Great American Songbook (March 11; 10 to 11:30 p.m.; Channel 13) gathers the disparate likes of Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra, Lena Horne, Al Jolson, Ethel Merman, Paul Robeson, Doris Day, and Fred Astaire in stage and movie clips organized by Great Performances to celebrate songwriters like Harold Arlen, Irving Berlin, Dorothy Fields, Victor Herbert, Jerome Kern, Johnny Mercer, Rodgers and Hart, Sigmund Romberg, Jule Styne, and Harry Warren.

Frozen Impact (March 14; 8 to 10 p.m.; PAX) requires emergency dispatcher Ted McGinley, in the middle of a killer hail storm, to rescue a frozen liver from an airplane crash and his daughter from a mountainside. Meanwhile, his doctor wife Linda Purl is waiting at the hospital to transplant the liver into her dying son, Myles Jeffrey, who won’t leave the injured side of used-car salesman Stacy Keach. What more could you possibly need to know?

Mafia Doctor (March 16; 9 to 11 p.m.; CBS) stars Paul Sorvino as a cruel Mafia don, Olympia Dukakis as his nice ailing wife, and Danny Nucci as the neighborhood guy the mob sends to medical school so they’ll have a sawbones who makes house calls. Ridiculous, but is it art?

Normal (March 16; 10 p.m. to midnight; HBO) is far from it. Tom Wilkinson, after 25 years of marriage and two children, wants to turn into a woman, and his wife, Jessica Lange, would rather he didn’t. We see their troubles from the loopy perspective of Jane Anderson, who has adapted her own play for television and directed it as well. This means, as in The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom, that almost every line of dialogue has at least two meanings, one literal and the other either pop-anthropological or pomo-ironic. And yet Normal, unlike About Schmidt, actually seems to like its characters, and they seem to like each other.

If I Should Fall From Grace (March 17; 9 to 10:30 p.m.; Sundance) follows Shane MacGowan of the Pogues to punk-rock hell and back, with almost as much music as there is substance abuse.


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