In the spin-off Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior (Wednesday, 9 p.m., CBS), an elite team of FBI agents use unlikely behavioral analysis to catch unlikely psychopaths. Forest Whitaker sets the tone as team leader Sam Cooper: grim determination. So grim that it makes the original Criminal Minds look like a salsa dance-off.
Would it kill Suspect Behavior to vary this tone every once in a while? Couldn't they, say, throw in some humor? Or rage? Or personality? "Let's not indulge our anger here," Sam says in his eternally hushed voice, as the weekly psycho runs rampant.
No, please, be our guest indulge your anger!
Sunday, 7 pm (PBS)
Wildlife photographer Colin Stafford-Johnson creates an extraordinary tribute to a single tiger, whom he called Broken Tail. Stafford-Johnson fell in love with Broken Tail from the day he was born in India's Ranthambhore tiger preserve, following him for over two years. "Broken Tail was just special," he says. "He was adventurous, exuberant, full of life, charismatic, arrogant and totally fearless.... I knew him as well as I knew my own daughter." Stafford-Johnson expected Broken Tail to grow up and dominate the area, but instead he disappeared one day, never to return.
Where most of us would just move on with our lives, Stafford-Johnson set off on a 150-mile journey on foot to figure out what happened to Broken Tail.
You can't help but admire his dedication to this ravenous beast. One can just imagine how the conversation would go if they ever did see each other again.
Broken Tail: "Dinner!"
Sunday, 9 pm (PBS)
I've always held British drama in awe, so it's comforting, in a way, to learn that their TV movies can be just as bad as ours. Maybe even worse. "Any Human Heart" is so preposterous that at first you think it's a parody of dashing-novelist clichés. But no, it appears to be deadly serious about its tale of a writer who carouses with Ernest Hemingway while traipsing through mid-20th-century milestones (the Spanish Civil War, World War II) and leaving behind a trail of wives, children and mistresses.
Logan Mountstuart is portrayed by several feckless actors over the course of his life (Jim Broadbent, Matthew Macfadyen, Sam Claflin), and they make for dull company, especially when reciting Logan's allegedly brilliant journal entries. "Absurd, head-reeling sensations of bliss!" Logan says of spending time with his latest mistress. "Intoxicating, chest-filling emotion that must be pure happiness!"
"Any Human Heart" causes head-reeling sensations, all right, but not of bliss.
Monday, 9 pm (MTV)
MTV's drama about high school kids has gotten attention for its raunchy scenes featuring underage actors. You can see why the network decided to pour on the sex, alcohol and drugs, because without those elements the production would warrant no attention at all. For all its attempts to show what high school is really like, Skins is nothing more than your basic nobody-understands-me teenage melodrama. It features stagy acting, loads of sentimentality, and dialogue that would never come out of a real teenager's mouth.
The only time Skins comes to life is in the montages. It's no surprise that MTV would get such mini-music videos right, with cool songs and snappy editing. Tune in for these parts and fast-forward through the parts where the characters make ill-advised attempts to talk to one another.
Wednesday, 7 pm (Fox)
It's Beatles night on American Idol, and you know what that means: time to put on headphones and play the actual Beatles really loud to drown out the horrible sounds coming out of the TV. I'm still traumatized by the memory of Taylor Hicks' "A Day in the Life" from season six.
Shedding for the Wedding
Wednesday, 8 pm (CW)
We will apparently see no end of reality series about fat people pitted against each other in do-or-diet situations. In Shedding for the Wedding, overweight couples face a weekly encounter with the scale as they vie to win a dream wedding.
Anyone care to join me in a boycott of this genre? We can call it "Ain't Stayin' for the Weigh-In."