Tuning in: On TV this week.
The 4400 (USA, 9-10 p.m.): The action heats up as the second season of the sci-fi series about 4400 alien abductees winds down. Friday night one of the 4400 launches a terrorist attack. The quiet, thoughtful series - which was recently nominated for Emmy Awards for Outstanding Miniseries and Outstanding Writing - taps into the better nature of humankind even at a time of war. The grand finale (Aug. 28) is imbued with intimations of higher meaning.
Barbershop: The Series (Showtime, 10-11 p.m.): The intermittently hilarious show centers on an African-American barber who thinks he's boss of his own shop. (His wife really runs things). The characters who work for him include a no-nonsense, tough, trash-talking, inner-city woman who can't control her temper; a white hunk who thinks he's black; an older African-American man who fails to understand the younger generation; and an African who fails to understand Americans. Though the series is marred by unnecessarily harsh language and sexual innuendo, it presents an affectionate and comic picture of street life.
Tommy Lee Goes to College (NBC, Back-to-back episodes, 9-10 p.m.): A rock star goes to college - and is polite and friendly to all. It sounds like a joke - and it is highly amusing, as "reality" shows go. The 40-something Lee (of Mötley Crüe fame) moves into a University of Nebraska dorm room, then transforms it into a rocker's dream pad, leaving his boyish roommate wondering where his stuff has gone. Tommy attends class but partying every night makes study difficult and he soon falls far behind. Higher Ed comes off looking desirable and demanding. The show might even be a good influence on those most likely to watch it.