{mosimage}Survivor took a turn for the macabre at the end of April. The women banded together against the men in what they gleefully called “the Black Widow Brigade.” Suddenly, the series didn’t seem like a harmless game anymore. The women were treating it like a bloody sacrificial rite, with murder in their eyes.

“We’re spinning the guys around until they don’t know which way is up,” said Parvati with a diabolical laugh. “Then we’re devouring them.”

Natalie was even scarier. She expressed a desire to suck the guys’ blood and even pantomimed licking it off her fingers.

“I’d love to blindside Jason,” she said, “flossing my teeth with his jugular.”

This week’s finale (Sunday, 8 p.m., CBS) may be the first one in which Survivor fans have to shield their eyes. I predict that the “Black Widow Brigade” will make good on their promise to eat every male contestant in the tribal council area. The sight of host Jeff Probst running into the jungle screaming will be a rather sad way to end the season.


American Experience

Wednesday, 8 p.m. (PBS)

Say you were a television network making a documentary about the recent Republican president George H.W. Bush. Would you (a), aim for a balanced perspective, giving equal time to supporters and detractors, or (b), turn the program over to adoring fans to add a rosy glow to Bush’s controversial career? If you chose (a), you clearly aren’t PBS, begging for federal funds with another Bush in the White House. Apparently scared of the “liberal bias” charge, the network has created one of the most craven documentaries I’ve ever seen on TV.

As Bush’s friends and family members tell it, with inspiring music on the soundtrack, George H.W. is just a decent fellow who wanted to do the right thing for his fellow countrymen. So when he welcomed racists into the Texas Republican Party in the 1960s, he was just being practical to advance a worthy cause. When he sought public office by denouncing civil rights, he was going against his true feelings. When he covered for Watergate-era Richard Nixon as Republican Party chairman, he was showing admirable loyalty.

Let’s look a little closer at this last episode to see how the documentary skews reality. We see a clip of Bush questioning the media’s patriotism for simply asking legitimate questions about criminal activity in the White House. 

“The president has said that he’s not involved in Watergate╔. and I accept that. And I don’t think it helps the stability or the forward progress of this country to speculate hypothetically when a man has made that statement.”

Is anyone allowed to call Bush for his ugly role in the Watergate affair? Nope č we just get wife Barbara letting him off the hook with a deeply hilarious alibi. “George couldn’t believe a man could look you in the face and say, ‘I had nothing to do with this. I have not lied.’”

I’m already dreading PBS’s heroic documentary about George W. Bush in the next decade or so.


An American Crime

Saturday, 9 p.m. (Showtime)

Your heart leaps at the prospect of Catherine Keener and Ellen Page in a movie together. But it sinks when you learn the subject, An American Crime, is the true story of 16-year-old Sylvia Likens (Page), left to live with a sadistic stranger named Gertrude Baniszewski (Keener) by her carny parents. Occasional whippings culminate in gruesome torture and imprisonment in the basement.

Page and Keener put everything they have into humanizing both victim and victimizer. But it’s a shame to see them work so hard in a movie that will only make you say “ewww.”

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