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TV Notes

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Reality TV: Tex Gordon is one four people struggling with mental illness in West 47th Street.  

West 47th Street (August 19; 10 to 11:30 p.m.; Channel 13) documents the three years that Bill Lichtenstein and June Peoples spent videotaping in Fountain House, a rehabilitation center in Manhattan for the mentally ill and homeless, with the focus on four regulars whose problems range from drug addiction to schizophrenia.

Smoking Gun TV (August 20; 8 to 9 p.m.; Court TV), spinning off from the Website, goes behind the scenes and into the closet to dish dirt with Mo Rocca about celebrity divorces, strange crimes, concert-tour performers’ demands, and Rocca’s Nick Nolte makeover.

A Decade Under the Influence (August 20, 21, 22; 8 to 9 p.m.; IFC), co-directed by Richard LaGravenese and the late Ted Demme, lets filmmakers like Robert Altman, Sidney Lumet, Julie Christie, and Dennis Hopper talk about seventies movies that made a difference before we actually see Mean Streets, Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, and The Conversation.

Failure Is Not an Option (August 24; 9 to 11 p.m.; History Channel) tells the space-program story yet again, but this time entirely from the point of view of the groundlings at Mission Control.

Rebus (August 25; 9 to 11 p.m.; BBC America), a series of four extremely gritty two-hour mystery movies, stars the remarkable John Hannah as a morose Edinburgh police detective who feels as bad about himself as he does about a corrupt world of pedophilia and serial murder.

Family Fundamentals (August 26; 10 to 11:30 p.m.; Channel 13) is what filmmaker Arthur Dong found looking into three families, one Mormon, one Catholic, one Pentecostal, and the different ways they deal with a homosexual child. You will not be surprised to hear that of all the people we meet in this P.O.V. installment, former California congressman Bob Dornan is the biggest jerk.

Berlin Philharmonic Europakonzert: From Palermo (August 27; 9:30 to 11:30 p.m.; Channel 13) features Gil Shaham as the soloist in Brahms’s Violin Concerto, Opus 77, plus Dvorák, Verdi, and Beethoven.

“I Have a Dream” (August 28; 10 to 11 p.m.; ABC) is a look back by Peter Jennings at Martin Luther King’s speech, on the fortieth anniversary of the March on Washington, and a meditation on the history of the civil-rights movement since then.

Lucy Must Be Traded, Charlie Brown (August 29; 9 to 9:30 p.m.; ABC) plays baseball with a bunch of comic-strip characters who seem not to know that the artist who gave birth to them is dead.

The Inspector Lynley Mysteries (August 31 through September 21; 9 to 10:30 p.m.; Channel 13) features Nathaniel Parker as Thomas Lynley, the eighth earl of something or other as well as gentleman detective in the Elizabeth George novels, nicely teamed with Sharon Small as Sergeant Barbara Havers, who is not as posh and is sometimes hostile about it. First up, a tortured dead boy at a snooty private school where sex and drugs are on the curriculum.

Freshman Diaries (August 31; 11 to 11:30 p.m.; Showtime) devotes ten half-hour episodes to seventeen freshmen, of various races, religions, and sexual preferences, at the University of Texas in Austin. My favorite is Natasha, a Goth chick with a pierced lip. But all of them feel bad.


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