Not being a woman, I wasn't familiar with the softcore female fantasy of having sex with a monk. After a Latin chant, he slips off his hooded robe to reveal a bodybuilder's torso. He makes passionate love to you on the sand while quoting from the saints.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. In The Mermaid Chair (Saturday, 8 p.m., Lifetime), Jessie (Kim Basinger) is unhappy with her life. She leaves her husband and heads back to the island where she grew up, populated by kooky old women and ' cue sexy Latin chant ' monks. Jessie's mother lives on the island too, and she's just cut off her finger. "She's gone insane," Jessie exclaims. "She's not insane," answers one of the kooky old women. "She's just tormented."
You'd think a mother with nine fingers ' heading toward eight ' would take one's mind off a monk with dimples, a square chin and perfect hair. (Clearly, the guy is smuggling gel into the abbey.) But Jessie is smitten upon hearing one of his liturgical pickup lines. After their sweaty lovemaking on the sand, he blows her off by saying, "I should get back to vespers." Monks ' they're all alike!
After a half-hour of this preposterous TV movie, I was going insane. Or was I just tormented?
The Path to 9/11
Sunday & Monday, 7 pm (ABC)
Oliver Stone's World Trade Center zeroes in on two victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, leaving out the context. ABC's The Path to 9/11, on the other hand, is all context. And in its own way, it's as compelling as Stone's film.
The miniseries follows the trail from the 1993 World Trade Center bombing to the 2001 attacks. In gritty cinema-veritÃ style, it takes us into the terrorist cells and behind the scenes at the FBI, CIA and White House. We follow a large cast of characters, including mad bomber Ramzi Yousef (Nabile Elouahabi), terrorist hunter John O'Neill (Harvey Keitel) and informant Emad Salem (Shaun Toub), who was initially ignored by the FBI.
The Path to 9/11 is not afraid to show the FBI or anybody else making tragic mistakes. You won't soon forget the image of yawning security guards.
Legends: Rodney Dangerfield
Sunday, 8 pm (Comedy Central)
Rodney Dangerfield was the comedian known for his tagline "I don't get no respect." In this tribute, we learn that Dangerfield really didn't get none ' not during his first stint in show business, anyway. But after quitting to sell aluminum siding, he returned to standup comedy in his 40s and found fame with artfully crafted one-liners that always made himself the butt of the joke.
Here, Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, Bill Murray, Adam Sandler, Roseanne, Jay Leno, Sandra Bernhard, Ray Romano and other top comedians make a case for Dangerfield as one of the all-time greats. They analyze his rat-a-tat delivery; they praise his generosity to younger comics; they marvel over his cross-generational appeal. And, of course, they lovingly quote his one-liners. "Ugly? On Halloween I opened the door and the kids gave me candy!"
Even if you weren't a big Rodney Dangerfield fan, you'll surely respect him by the end of the hour. I'm sure Rodney would be appalled.
Sunday, 8 pm (WHA)
The new season of "The Inspector Lynley Mysteries" starts with a bang. On a country estate, a naked woman gets out of bed, drifts into the kitchen and stares at someone out the window. We're looking straight into her reflection when ' BANG! ' a bullet spatters the windowpane red.
It's a shocking opener, and thank God I'd remembered to take my heart medication that morning. High-born detective Lynley (Nathaniel Parker) and his partner, working-class sergeant Havers (Sharon Small), arrive at the scene of the crime to sniff for evidence. They discover that the woman had been sexually active before the murder, probably not with her husband; that her body had been dragged outside but not concealed; that a debt-ridden neighbor with a shotgun had a crush on her; that a poacher had been there on the fateful night; that dog hair was mixed into the victim's bedsheets...
...okay, I'll stop dropping clues and leave you to ponder the mystery. Just don't do it anywhere near a window.
Sunday, 9 pm (HBO)
The cop show's season opener is typically brilliant and typically grim. It takes us from the bottom of Baltimore society to the top, revealing sick stuff at every level. Schoolkids get caught up in street violence; young drug dealers assassinate one another in back alleys; teachers face chaos in the classroom; a slick mayoral candidate oozes cynicism behind closed doors; the current mayor cozies up to a sleazy developer. The cops themselves look busy enough, but they don't prevent a single tragedy over the course of the episode.
Yes, it's depressing, but "The Wire" is so well done that I plan to watch the rest of the season anyway. With luck I won't commit suicide before the finale.