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The televisionist, April 16 

THE SOPRANOS

2:30 p.m. Sunday, April 19

A&E

God, how I miss “The Sopranos.” Don't get me wrong. It ended exactly where it had to — before Tony retired to start his own pizzeria with the wisecracking Asian delivery boy, and before Meadow gave birth to the cherubic kid with the gratingly adorable catchphrase. That doesn't mean I don't miss it, though. For my money, one of the best things about the show was the way creator David Chase eventually gave nearly every one of the supporting characters an episode where that character figured centrally. Hence, the world of Tony, Carmella and their brood got a rest, a supporting light was made more whole, and the world of the series was expanded exponentially. In this episode — the superb “Employee of the Month” — Tony's shrink/lust interest/confidante, Dr. Jennifer Melfi (Lorraine Bracco), gets a turn in the spotlight. After Dr. Melfi is raped and later discovers where the rapist works, she must struggle with a moral conundrum: Whether to loose Tony Soprano on her attacker, thus committing murder-by-proxy. It's riveting stuff.

 

AMERICAN EXPERIENCE:

WE SHALL REMAIN

8 p.m. April 20

AETN

Other than blood relatives, my best friend in the whole world is named Stuart Hoahwah. He's a Comanche. No kidding. He has the card in his pocket to prove it. Though we have damn near nothing in common – he's a rounder, I'd rather stay home; he was a ladies' man in college, while I was a devout monogamist; he's Native American, while I'm the whitest guy on the block – he's one of those friends who you can never quite get rid of. Part of the joy of being his friend over the years has been watching him rediscover the Indian side of himself, after a suburban upbringing in Benton, where eating at the Chinese buffet is about as ethnic as most folks get. I'm sure Stu and I will have lots to talk about in coming weeks, as AETN airs the superb five-part series “We Shall Remain” on PBS, appearing every Monday between now and May 11. The story of the Native peoples of North America, it's bound to be a stirring tale of glory, heartbreak and rediscovery. During this week's installment, “Tecumseh's Vision,” be sure to catch the mini-episode “Arkansas's First Peoples: Nations,” produced by AETN.  

 

PITCHMEN!

9 p.m. Wednesday, April 22

The Discovery Channel

God bless you, reality TV. Through your bounty, I've been exposed to groupie skanks, meth heads, motorcycle stuntmen and whip-wielding dominatrixes. I've ridden shotgun with Dog the Bounty Hunter. I've witnessed a Bridezilla's tirade. I've watched as perfectly rational people have eaten pig anus for the chance to win a few bucks. Praise you, oh mighty teat. You are truly a wonder. Now comes what might be the greatest expression of your glory: the auto-cannibalism that is “Pitchmen!” from The Discovery Channel.  Where does the Discovery come in, you ask? Why, it's: How can we possibly come up with some fresh crapola to sell people during late-nite TV? In this new show, grinning infomercial psychopath Billy Mays (BILLY MAYS HERE! KABOOM, BABY! I WANT TO EAT YOUR SPLEEN!) hosts a search for the inventor of the next great gadget sensation. If you call now — because we can't do this all day — we'll include: A green spray paint for shabby lawns, an exercise device that fits in your pocket, a shark repelling ankle bracelet, and an on-the-plate cheese grater. You'll be sayin' “Wow” every time.

  

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