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SHOWS FOR NOV. 9-15

Sunday 11/10

The Outsider (Showtime, 8-10 p.m.) Tim Daly stars as a gunslinger in this weird melodrama of the old West. An Amish-like family is threatened by a cattle baron who murders the husband and threatens the wife and child. When gunslinger Johnny Gault enters the scene with a bullet wound the size of Montana, a local doc gives him little hope. But the newly widowed Rebecca (Naomi Watts) prays for him, and he recovers. The two fall in love, but her religious community shuns them. The writing is pedestrian and the acting insincere, but the story is attractive in its defense of prayer as a basis for love.

Monday 11/11

Jimmy Carter (PBS, 9-10 p.m. Part 2 follows Nov. 12, same time) "American Experience" comes through once again with an outstanding presidential biography. Carter's rise to power seemed like a fluke, but his rapid descent from public esteem now seems like a tragedy. His message was about moral integrity - and that served him well with peace in the Middle East and his human rights crusade here. But the hostage crisis in Iran and economic problems led to a humiliating defeat by Ronald Reagan. Carter's emphasis on conservation sounded daft to many at the time, but it seems very sensible now. This film witnesses his accomplishments without sounding sycophantic.

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Antony and Cleopatra (A&E, 9-11 p.m.) Debunking myths about Cleopatra has all sorts of repercussions. Ancient historians were men - and as we all know, victors write history. It was easy for Romans to imagine her as a tart with powers over men. But maybe she was more of an intellectual than a femme fatale. She may not even have been a great beauty. She was of Greek, not Egyptian descent. Yet her Egyptian subjects adored her. It's a good story, full of surprises.

Thursday 11/14

Let's Get Married (PBS, 9-10 p.m.) Frontline takes on one of the most important social institutions - marriage. It's in trouble. And that trouble has very "public consequences," says journalist Alex Kotlowitz. The deterioration of family leads to crime, poverty, and social instability. Why is Oklahoma so poor? Too much divorce. The gulf between liberal and conservative views is closing. We all agree divorce is bad for children. But what to do about it? This may be the most important family show on TV this week - more enlightening than, say, "8 Simple Rules."


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