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TV highlights March 23-29 

Andre Braugher.
  • Andre Braugher.

CHEERLEADER NATION
9 p.m. Sunday, March 26
Lifetime Network
(Comcast Ch. 55)

Though it still isn’t quite full contact, no-pads football, being a cheerleader has become a lot more demanding in recent years than just memorizing the words to your cheers. In the case of some elite high school squads, a cheerleading routine can be downright dangerous — a stunning display of balance, strength, coordination and gymnastics that can include everything from human pyramids to “basket tosses” that can send a girl flying high overhead. In a new reality show from the good folks at Lifetime, cameras follow the trails and travails of a seven-member cheerleading team from a small Kentucky high school as they seek their dreams of a championship year. Given the network, it’s bound to be weepy, but it’ll also surely be loads of fun.

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC: SEARCH FOR THE PHOENICIANS
5 p.m. Saturday, March 25
AETN (Comcast Ch. 3, Broadcast Ch. 2)

In the Bible, if the Philistines weren’t kicking your ass, it was usually the Phoenicians. An ancient people known for their skill as seafarers, the Phoenicians gained a reputation for both their rich culture and their brutality. In a documentary from National Geographic, three very different scientists go in search of this great ancient culture and the fate of its long-disappeared people. First, Dr. Robert Ballard, discoverer of the wreck of the Titanic, searches for Phoenician shipwrecks. Meanwhile, a Spanish archaeologist looks at a sacred altar used by sailors in a cave at the base of the Rock of Gibraltar. Finally, geneticist Spencer Wells tries to find the descendants of the Phoenicians via DNA testing of modern people in Tunisia.

THIEF
10 p.m. Tuesday, March 28
FX (Comcast Ch. 56)

One of our recurring favorites in film and television recently has been the character actor Andre Braugher. With a face as expressive as any line he might deliver, Braugher seems to be one of those lesser stars constantly poised on the edge of a breakout. The good news is, his time may have finally come, with a starring turn in the superb new FX drama “Thief.” Set in New Orleans, it tells the tale of a high-stakes heist artist, desperate to keep his criminal enterprise and his family life separate. A thorough portrait of an anti-hero (Braugher’s character, in the pilot, reveals himself to be not only a thief, but a murderer, in cahoots with drug dealers and assorted low-lifes), it is also a fascinating look at how hard it must be to try to exist both within and outside of the law. A must see.

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