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What's on TV

Sunday 6/22

Second Nature (TNT, 8-10 p.m.): Alec Baldwin stars in a thriller about a man who wakes from a coma, only to learn his family was killed in a plane crash. But is the strangely disaffected man really who he thinks he is? Can his "nature" be changed by medical treatment or even his specialized undercover work? The fast-moving drama asks good questions, though it spends too much time trying to chill us and not enough time twisting the plot. TV-14

God and the Inner City (PBS, 10-11 p.m.): Gene Rivers quit Harvard to get back to the mean streets of Boston and make a difference among the young and the violent. Now a minister for many years, he has been working with the police to reduce crime and violence. One of the intractable issues of our large cities has been the question of who will police black neighborhoods. But black or white, "We haven't found a replacement for stable nuclear families," says one expert. The film asks, "Do faith-based organizations work better than government institutions?" It's in answering that question that this fine documentary excels.

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Monday 6/23

Comic Book Superheroes Unmasked (The History Channel, 9-11 p.m.): Superman grabbed Hitler and Stalin and dropped them off with the American feds to dispose of. Captain America slugged Hitler out of the frame. Wonder Woman was an Amazon for the New Deal and an invincible enemy of the Nazis. The superheroes of the 1930s emerged as Hitler rose to power. When World War II began, it was also fought on the pages of comic books - they were included in the soldiers' rations along with candy bars. The History Channel welds its stories together with skill and enthusiasm, and this one adds a little mythology for texture. TV-G

Friday 6/27

Dead Like Me (Showtime, 10-11:30 p.m.): In this new series, a depressed and cynical teenage girl dies suddenly in a freak accident involving space debris. Finding herself inhabiting an unhappy middle ground between the living and the dead, Georgia (Ellen Muth) also finds herself with a brand-new job. Not many teenage girls get to be called "grim reaper" - one who escorts the recently deceased to their new destinations - and the task understandably freaks her out. Witty and sharply observed, it's a bit like watching addicts wake up from long-term oblivion, appreciating life for the first time in years. Mandy Patinkin stars as Georgia's mentor. TV-14


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