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Winged Victory

All of this is registered by the aids hospital-ward nurse Belize with something between exasperation and despair. If you missed Jeffrey Wright as Belize on the Broadway stage, you really owe HBO for bringing him back. His black nurse (an “inept” stereotyping Kushner now regrets) is a slinky wonder with ferocious teeth. When he isn’t camping, he’s a warrior. Even Roy realizes that Belize is “my negation, come to escort me to the underworld.” Belize replies: “Everything I want is in the end of you.” Which isn’t entirely true. He also wants a heaven that’s a city, not a garden, a fabulous hereafter with “Creole deities.” And when Roy, after one last sing-along of “John Brown’s Body,” is at last safely dead, Belize steals his stash of AZT and passes it on to feckless Louis, who brings it to the angel-wrestling Walter, the lover he abandoned as God abandoned the rest of us.

This is how all three, plus Meryl’s Mormon mom, make it to Central Park and the Angel at the Bethesda Fountain in 1990. “If you don’t know where you’re going, can you move?” Kushner asked in an interview in Mother Jones in 1995. “And do you even have a choice, or do you just dive in and work it out as you’re going?” To which he added, and this is as funny as it is prophetic: “You can’t stay back. The fundamental question is: Are we made by history or do we make history—and the answer is yes.”

The Simple Life (December 2; 8:30 to 9 p.m.; Fox) is the Paris Hilton tape you haven’t seen. With Nicole Richie, she leaves Los Angeles for Arkansas, where there is only one bathroom, many farm chores, and not a single laugh.

Celebrity Poker Showdown (December 2; 9 to 10 p.m.; Bravo) is what happens when an arts channel has a ratings smash with a gimmick series like Queer Eye and ups the ante with the card-playing likes of Ben Affleck, Don Cheadle, Emily Procter, and David Schwimmer. For shame.

Uganda: The Presidential Tour (December 2; 9 to 11 p.m; Travel Channel) allows Forrest Sawyer to hang out with Yoweri Kaguta Museveni as they visit mountains, rivers, rain forests, wetlands, savannahs, and abounding wildlife, while trying to forget that Idi Amin ever happened. It’s a prettier picture than we’ve recently seen of troubled Africa.

Line of Fire (December 2; 10 to 11 p.m; ABC), a midseason series in which, in Richmond, Virginia, the FBI (Lesley Hope, Leslie Bibb, Julie Ann Emery, Michael Irby) wages holy war against the mob (David Paymer, Brian Goodman), has a talented cast and a gritty cinematic texture, much like the late lamented (and perhaps equally unnecessary) EZ Streets.

Horatio Hornblower (December 2 and 3; 8 to 10 p.m; A&E) brings back Ioan Gruffudd as TV’s answer to Russell Crowe, beating off the evil French forces of Napoleon in Loyalty (where a woman sets her cap for Horatio) and Duty (during which Horatio actually marries this woman). Reliable fun every time out.

Forensic Files (December 3; 9:30 to 10 p.m; Court TV) looks at the Zodiac Killer case, with dramatic re-creations to make us care again about a gunman whose real target always seems to have been the front page of the New York Post.

The Tracy Morgan Show (December 2; 8 to 8:30 p.m; NBC) lets us sit in on the sitcomming of a black nuclear family, with Denny’s, P. Diddy, and Doritos jokes. Same old.

Word of Honor (December 6; 8 to 10 p.m; TNT) stars Don Johnson as a former army officer still protecting his men (who “lost their minds for this country”) from an Article 32 investigation into a military massacre of men, women, and children in a Vietnamese hospital 30 years ago. Jeanne Tripplehorn is the major looking into the case; John Heard, Sharon Lawrence, and Arliss Howard co-star; and actual issues are examined with a hard eye, even if the deck is ultimately stacked.

Undercover Christmas (December 7; 9 to 11 PM.; CBS) insists that FBI agent Shawn Christian bring cocktail waitress Jami Gertz home with him for Christmas with his snooty family, because she’s a witness who needs protection. Blue-collar moxie will, of course, save this family from its blue-blood resentments.

Peter Jennings Reporting: How to Get Fat Without Really Trying (December 8; 8 to 9 p.m; ABC) says obesity is not all our fault. The food industry has something to do with it, and so does a government that subsidizes all the wrong agribiz. Nice job.

Battlestar Galactica (December 8 and 9; 9 to 11 p.m; SciFi) is back from the prime-time dead to wage war once more against the machines, with a female Starbuck this time (Katee Sackhoff) and Edward James Olmos in charge of the heavy artillery, while Mary McDonnell has become president of the 12 Colonies of Kobol because the 42 people ahead of her constitutionally were all killed in the Cylon War. Actually superior to the original.

The AMC Project: Malkovich’s Mail (December 8; 10 to 11 p.m; AMC) reads the vagrant mail the actor’s production company has received from screenwriting wannabes with mood disorders, imaginary hunchbacks, frog fetishes, and wild-pig dreams. Be careful what you laugh at.