SHOWS WORTH NOTING FOR JAN. 6 - 12
Listings are not necessarily recommended by the Monitor. All times Eastern, check local listings.
(Fox Family, 7-11 p.m.): Victor Hugo's classic tale has been stripped of much of its power in this tame version. Gerard Depardieu plays the wretched Jean Valjean, who spends 19 years in prison for stealing a loaf of bread. Pursued by a relentless policeman, Valjean makes a new life for himself. Toward the end, something of moral stature comes through in Depardieu's performance, though John Malkovich fails to grasp the emotional depth of Inspector Javert.
National Geographic: In Pursuit of the Mighty Bluefin
(CNBC, 9-10 p.m.): One giant bluefin tuna is worth $80,000 on the Japanese sushi market - and consequently the fish are becoming endangered. A remarkable Japanese scientist may have the answer, if the bluefin can be farmed. Fabulous cinematography opens up yet another world under the deep blue sea.
(Lifetime, 9-11 p.m.): The new series about police women is marred by thin writing. But the premise is intriguing, and the show could offer a lot of insight about how the law affects the women who serve it. Bonnie Bedelia stars.
(PBS, check local listings): Ken Burns's brilliant documentary begins tonight (see stories, pages 12 and 13).
Once and Again
(ABC, 10-11 p.m.): The show routinely tries to come to terms with the ravages of divorce and the hope of remarriage. It could just be one more soap opera, but the fine writing saves it, and the acting is mostly terrific.
Gary and Mike
(UPN, 9-9:30 p.m. special premiere; regular premiere, Jan. 12): This animated story about loser 20somethings who hit the road to find adventure might be more fun if it weren't so dark. Still, the animation from Will Vinton Studios (the guys who gave us the Grapevine raisin commercials) is remarkable.
(WB, 9-10 p.m.): ABC's unsuccessful "The Band" tried to follow the formation of a boy band, but this reality series takes us on the long haul of creating a girl's rock band. Hundreds of women audition, and some of their performances are difficult to watch. Others show potential. The first episode demystifies the rock world somewhat.
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