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THE DAILY NEWS WATCH-O-RAMA- THE HIGHLIGHTS AND LOWLIGHTS OF THE COMING TV WEEK.

Byline: David Kronke

``The Madam's Family: The Truth About Canal Street Brothel''

(CBS Channel 2; 9 tonight)

Think: The family that turns tricks together sticks together: Ellen Burstyn, Annabella Sciorra and Dominique Swain play three generations of prostitutes whose house of ill repute comes under FBI surveillance.

Don't think: Hey, the women over on ABC's ``Desperate Housewives'' do much of this for free.

In a nutshell: Sort of an interesting yarn, but tonal problems - is it a black comedy? an underdog drama? - prevent it from delivering maximum pleasure.

``The Young and the Restless''

(CBS Channel 2; 11 a.m. Monday)

Think: The 8,000th episode of the 31-year-old soap opera: Bobby and Brittany's wedding is greeted with - surprise! - a surprise, as other relationships sour and murderers are confronted.

Don't think: Some say this show's been coasting for the past 3,500 or so episodes.

In a nutshell: On to the next 8,000 episodes about evil twins, conniving harridans and sinister stalkers.

``Soldier's Pay''

(Independent Film Channel; 9:35 p.m. and midnight Monday)

Think: David O. Russell's documentary on soldiers in the Iraqi war that Warner Bros. declined to include on its upcoming DVD of his film ``Three Kings'' due to its political content. What on Earth were they expecting, anyway? Various viewpoints on the current war with Iraq come from soldiers and others, including some who, like the characters in Russell's film, stumbled upon a large cache of cash.

Don't think: This will be the report that finally sways all those undecided voters.

In a nutshell: Call it ``The Case Against Iraq 101.'' Russell himself admits, ``It is nothing fancy,'' but there are a couple of facts and incidents you may not have heard or read about before.

``How's Your News?: On the Campaign Trail''

(Trio; 9 p.m. Tuesday)

Think: Reporters with disabilities - cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, etc. - cover the 2004 political conventions.

Don't think: At least they're on equal footing with the conventioneers.

In a nutshell: Not great counter-programming: Those with interest in politics may direct their attentions elsewhere this evening.

``The Young Visiters''

(BBC America; 8 p.m. Wednesday)

Think: Oscar winner and producer Jim Broadbent (``Iris'') and Hugh Laurie (Fox's upcoming ''House'') star in this droll adaptation of a Victorian class-comedy written in 1919 by a 9-year-old girl (hence the title's misspelling) about two men competing for the affections of a lovely young lady (Lyndsey Marshal).

Don't think: Uber-meta TV - a book written by a child for adult audiences has been transformed into a film by adults for kid viewers.

In a nutshell: Broad(bent)ly comic, it's the rare BBC America production aimed at the entire family.

``Last Stand of the Great Bear''

(KCET; 8 p.m. Wednesday)

Think: Loggers gut a rain forest (the title refers to the name of the forest, not a mammal); conservationists try to stop them. And you can appreciate the wildlife therein.

Don't think: A handful of ecologically minded guys vs. the logging industry? I know where the smart money lies. Oh, and they throw in a mystical element, too: Our heroes just might see ``the great ghost of the forest - the white spirit bear of ancient lore.'' So much for pure science.

In a nutshell: Earnest but beautifully shot.

``The West Wing''

(NBC Channel 4; 9 p.m. Wednesday)

Think: Both the Middle East peace treaty and Leo (John Spencer), who suffered a massive heart attack, are looking pretty shaky, while Republicans push for a tax cut and Josh (Bradley Whitford) tries to eschew junk food. C.J. (Allison Janney) gets an offer she can't refuse.

Don't think: So many characters wind up in the hospital, you'd think show-runner John Wells forgot this isn't ``ER.''

In a nutshell: These plot lines mirroring real life (a rush to judgment in the Middle East, the tax cut) do so in a shockingly unimaginative way, and the ``humor'' is unfunny in a surreal way. It's scarcely a bad show, but those great early seasons spoiled viewers for the current middlebrow sensibility.

``The O.C.''

(Fox Channel 11; 8 p.m. Thursday)

Think: Second-season premiere of the teen soap sensation finds Sandy (Peter Gallagher) desperately seeking son Seth (Adam Brody), who's angrily bunking down in Portland, Ryan (Benjamin McKenzie) with his pregnant ex and Marissa (Mischa Barton), as always, getting elegantly sloshed - and, we learn next week, finding life after Ryan. And a financial scandal threatens to take down everyone.

Don't think: ``I'll never get close to a boy again,'' vows Summer (Rachel Bilson) at the beginning of tonight's episode - anyone want to take odds on how long before she breaks that promise?

In a nutshell: Dopey plotting but crisply witty dialogue and inspired characters make this vaguely addictive guilty pleasure counterprogramming against ``Survivor'' and ``Joey.'' That's how they do things in the O.C., beeyotch.

``JAG''

(CBS Channel 2; 9 p.m. Friday)

Think: Harm (David James Elliott) and Mac (Catherine Bell) go to Baghdad to handle a manslaughter case in which a soldier is held responsible for the death during a firefight of a Department of Defense adviser responsible for under-equipping soldiers.

Don't think: A current, out-of-control war is always good for some light, mainstream entertainment.

In a nutshell: Solidly constructed episode, but it curiously seems to miss the grim irony in punishing soldiers for deaths in war zones. Joseph Heller it ain't.

``DIG!''

(Sundance Channel; 9 p.m. Saturday)

Think: Seven years in the lives of the alternative rockers Anton Newcombe of the self-destructive Brian Jonestown Massacre and Courtney Taylor-Taylor of the Dandy Warhols, ``the most well-adjusted band in America,'' as a friendship disintegrates into maniacal enmity in one of this year's winners at the Sundance Film Festival.

Don't think: Self-destructive, as used above, is an example of understatement. And calling it understatement is also an example of understatement.

In a nutshell: A raw, jaw-dropping film that stumbles into greatness, examining the thin line between a unique creative vision and a death wish - and why anyone who records for a major label may have the latter more than the former.

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`Last Stand of the Great Bear'
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Oct 31, 2004
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