TV Lookout: Highlights (and lowlights) for the week ahead, March 30-April 5
AP Television Writer
The Lifetime Movie Network has picked a darkly compelling subject for its first original miniseries: the story of the Green River serial killer who preyed on women in the Seattle area in the 1980s and ’90s.
“The Capture of the Green River Killer,” airing Sunday and Monday (8 p.m.), stars Tom Cavanagh (“Ed”) as Dave Reichert, the police detective (later sheriff, and now congressman) who became obsessed with cracking the case.
Reichert detailed the saga in his book, “Chasing the Devil,” on which the miniseries is based. The drama tracks an unhappy teenager, Helen, played by Amy Davidson, as her fate becomes intertwined with the killer who targets runaways and prostitutes.
Meanwhile, Reichert is following every lead and trying every approach, including a heart-to-heart with convicted serial killer Ted Bundy (James Marsters, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”). Reichert slogs through turf battles, public criticism and false confessions.
The investigation took nearly 20 years but finally pinpointed the man who was linked by DNA and fiber evidence to the crimes and confessed to taking the lives of 48 women.
When trucking company worker Gary Ridgway pleaded guilty in 2003, he became the nation’s deadliest convicted serial killer. He avoided the death penalty by offering to help investigators locate victims’ remains that had been missing for two decades.
Sharon Lawrence (“NYPD Blue”) and John Pielmeier co-star.
Other shows to look out for:
– “Sex Workers or Victims” is Oxygen’s third installment of its “Who Cares About Girls” documentary series aimed at exploring how vulnerable young girls fare in the world. In the program debuting Sunday (9 p.m.), host Lisa Ling reports on underage prostitution in the United States, focusing on cases in New York, Dallas and Las Vegas. According to the report, most of the estimated hundreds of thousands of juveniles involved in the domestic sex trade are victims of rape, abuse or torture ” and, in contrast to other countries that provide medical treatment and social services, rarely get such aid. Instead, the film says, most are treated as delinquents and prosecuted as criminals. Ling delves into the lives of girls who are or were prostitutes and rides along with law enforcement officers who are going after those who are making money off the underage trade. She also examines programs that are attempting to open the door to a new life for girls mired in trouble.
– As the baby boom generation ages, its members are increasingly dealing with the issue of how to care for the people who cared for them. A PBS special that premieres Wednesday (check local listings) tracks the stories of five families from Rhode Island. The 90-minute documentary shows the day-to-day sacrifices made by these families, including the wrenching decisions to place parents in nursing homes and the conflict that occasionally breaks out amid siblings over what to do. “Caring for Your Parents” is followed by a 30-minute discussion moderated by Art Ulene on how to start the conversation with parents on how they want to be treated.
– Attention, inventors of all ages: The second season of PBS’ “Design Squad” is coming Wednesday (check local listings) to help kick-start your next big idea. With the stated goal of getting viewers “excited about engineering and the design process,” the 13-episode show will give eight high school contestants the task of solving problems for real-world clients. Among the challenges: creating cardboard furniture for a retail chain and designing a gravity bike that works without pedals or cranks for athlete Tom Whalen. The ultimate prize is a $10,000 college scholarship. But one lucky viewer also will find the show financially rewarding ” “Design Squad” is inviting students ranging from kindergartners to high schoolers to take part in another $10,000-prize contest. The goal is to take items destined for recycling, such as paper, plastic, small electronics and wood, and turn them into a useful product. Let the noodling begin!