Holly Hunter's Grace Hanadarko might be the most vivid cop on TV. In this week's episode of Saving Grace (Monday, 9 p.m., TNT), she tries to get inside the head of a serial killer terrorizing Oklahoma City. The crimes are horrible, and Grace is on edge. She guzzles whiskey, she smokes, she chews out her new partner (Christina Ricci). Her hair looks like a messy pile of straw, and she's itching for a fight. "I'm about to kick your ass," she tells a burly male colleague. Even though Grace is only about 4'11", you truly believe she could kick his ass. Hunter is that good at playing tough.
Sadly, all the brilliant realistic acting is undercut whenever The Angel (Leon Rippy) shows up. He's a folksy heavenly being who dispenses wise advice and pretty much ruins Saving Grace for me. Couldn't the producers trade him to The Ghost Whisperer, where no one would think twice about another cornball spirit?
The Black List: Vol. 2
Thursday, 7 pm; Saturday, 2 pm (HBO)
Like Vol. 1, Vol. 2 simply trains the camera on a succession of extraordinary African Americans, who tell their stories posed against a blank background. It's a stark approach that allows the interviewees no safety net. They must win us over with only their words, their faces and their personalities. And each one of them does. We hear from actors (Laurence Fishburne, Maya Rudolph), musicians (RZA, Charley Pride), politicians (Deval Patrick) and professors (Angela Davis), all of whom had to overcome something or other to be successful in the U.S.
Maybe a few decades post-Obama, the interviewees of The Black List: Vol. 79 won't have to tell a single story about "overcoming." Hey, we can dream.
15 Most Unforgettable Hollywood Tragedies
Friday, 7 pm (E!)
If they're so unforgettable, why does E! feel compelled to remind us about them?
Sunday, 8 pm (NBC)
The word "Celebrity" might be stretching it. But I guess the more accurate title Washed-Up Celebrity Apprentice would pose a bit of a marketing challenge. In the new season, long-forgotten comedian Andrew Dice Clay, '90s freak Dennis Rodman, played-out Playmate Brande Roderick, irrelevant mother-daughter act Joan and Melissa Rivers, and a bunch of people I've never heard of try to impress Donald Trump with their business smarts.
How about this for a first challenge: Come up with a way to bail out the U.S. banking industry. Maybe Obama overlooked something that Rodman will catch.
Late Night With Jimmy Fallon
Monday, 11:35 pm (NBC)
Conan O'Brien worked wonders in NBC's late-night slot, and come June we'll get to see him an hour earlier as he takes over Jay Leno's Tonight Show. In the meantime, former Saturday Night Live comedian Jimmy Fallon takes Conan's place. He's got some big shoes (and extremely long pants) to fill.
The Real Housewives of New York City
Tuesday, 9 pm (Bravo)
The series' second season was filmed before the financial meltdown, and thus serves to remind us that, once upon a time, the filthy rich didn't have a care in the world. Our high-society heroines shop, preen and lounge, as if the gap between them and the rest of us were destined to remain wide for all eternity.
"I never feel guilty about being privileged," crows LuAnn.
Alex has nothing better to do than to complain about the posh beaches on the Hamptons. "My husband and I are used to beaches closer to the Equator," she sniffs.
If these women experience any self-doubt, it's the nagging feeling that they don't pamper themselves enough. "I really need to make it more about me and not about anyone else," says Bethenny, setting herself an almost impossible goal.
The Real Housewives of New York City makes you think that Bernard Madoff might have been an act of God.