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TV Notes - Week of September 8, 2003

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Soldados: Chicanos in Vietnam and the Sixth Section (September 2; 10 to 11 p.m.; Channel 13) is a P.O.V. double bill in which we first follow five Chicano boys from a rural California town to war in the Asian rice paddies, where all were wounded and one died, and then look at the surprising ways 300 low-paid immigrants changed their hometown in Mexico—an ambulance, electricity, even a kindergarten cafeteria—by working in Newburgh, in upstate New York.

Showgirls: Glitz & Angst (September 6; 9:45 to 11 p.m.; HBO) follows a half-dozen topless dancers through rehearsals for a Vegas show every bit as vulgar as the make-believe Elizabeth Berkley movie, except, at least, without the rape.

And Starring Pancho Villa As Himself (September 7; 9:30 to 11:30 p.m.; HBO) actually stars Antonio Banderas as Pancho Villa, and a terrific job he does of it, as directed by Bruce Beresford with a Larry Gelbart screenplay that should persuade even the slowest among us that the existence of postmodernists preceded the essence of postmodernism. Which is to say that before there was French theory and American academics in thrall to it, the Mexican insurrectionary Pancho Villa cut a deal with Hollywood for exclusive film rights to his revolution in return for $25,000 in gold. Not the least of Villa’s enemies at the time were Hearst’s newspapers, so he could use the help of D. W. Griffith (Colm Feore), Harry Aitken (Jim Broadbent), Raoul Walsh (Kyle Chandler), and Frank Thayer (Eion Bailey). Villa even agreed to fight only during the daylight hours, when the light was better for the cameras. How meta can you get?

The Reality of Reality (September 8; 9 to 10 p.m.; Bravo), as if the shows themselves weren’t more than enough, is a five-part series that goes behind the scenes at reality shows like Temptation Island, Joe Millionaire, Manhunt, and Survivor to look at exactly what they fudge, what happens to these instant celebrities, and stuff that seems even worse on TV systems in other nations.


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