TV highlights Jan. 20-26 

DEAD MEN DON’T WEAR PLAID (1982) 10:30 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 23 American Movie Classics (Comcast Ch. 31) While Steve Martin has gotten a little middle-aged moody for my taste in recent years, morphing from “wild and crazy guy” to “sober and scowling artist,” you’ve got to admit the guy is a freakin’ genius. Though most people list “The Jerk” as their favorite Martin film, I have to go out on a limb and give props to “Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid,” Martin and director Carl Reiner’s hilarious spin on the detective flicks of the 1940s. Here, Martin plays Rigby Reardon, a hard-boiled gumshoe on the trail of Nazi collaborators. Shot in black and white and intercut with scenes from film noir classics, “Plaid” is the perfect antidote for ol’ Steve’s later attempts at deep thought. RIDING THE BULLET (2005) 7 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 23 USA Network (Comcast Ch. 26) Though perennially successful, writer Stephen King has finally broken through the snob ceiling in recent years, garnering a grudging acceptance by mainstream critics, an O. Henry Award for short fiction, and special recognition by the National Book Award. Here, King’s foray into the world of e-books makes it onto the small screen. Originally published and for sale only on the web, it’s the story of Alan Parker, a suicidal artist hitchhiking home from the University of Maine during the summer of 1969. True to King’s form, he gets a ride, all right: from Death incarnate. Trapped in the Grim Reaper’s speeding ’58 Plymouth, Parker is forced to make a life and death choice, holding a loved one’s life in the balance. PROJECT RUNWAY 8 p.m. Wednesday, Jan 26 Bravo (Comcast Ch. 50) Fashionistas and those with dreams of breaking into the garment industry would do well to tune in to this one, Bravo’s stab at a rags-to-riches — literally — reality show. Here, a group of aspiring fashion designers square off each week and compete in design-centered challenges (“You have 100 rubber gloves, ten pipe cleaners, and a garbage can lid. Create an evening dress, size 8. Go!”) with the results judged by a panel of snotty fashion celebrities, including host Heidi Klum. A loser gets sent to the bargain bin each week, but when all is said and done, the final three will put their work to the runway test during New York’s Fall Fashion Week, with the winner receiving $100,000 to start a clothing line and a full-on photo spread in “Elle” magazine.

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