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"The Front": The second time is better than the first time

Well what do you know?!

Last week, I was sorely disappointed by "At Risk," the first Lifetime movie based on a Patricia Cornwell novel, starring Andie MacDowell and Daniel Sunjata. In a word, it was tedious.

So it was with trepidation that I screened "The Front" (9 tonight), the second Lifetime movie from Cornwell's work with the same characters.

But instead of being bored again, I was pleasantly surprised. This one kind of works.

"Treme": What it means to miss New Orleans

There's this funny sequence in the second episode of "Treme", (HBO, 10 p.m tonight):
Three young tourists in post-Katrina New Orleans get sent to a bar in a dicey neighborhood to hear music and experience the authentic nature of the city. There they encounter good music, good cue and a bony man with too many gold teeth and a ready grin.

I won't give away what happens, but elements of their experience are akin to how "Treme" made me feel in only three episodes: immersed, giddy, and longing for more.

"Patricia Cornwell's At Risk": Not worth taking a chance

I've never read a Patricia Cornwell book, but I know that she's beloved and well read, a best-selling author whose Kay Scarpetta character will be played in a movie by Angelina Jolie. (She also graduated from Davidson College and was a reporter for the Charlotte Observer.)

"At Risk" (Lifetime, tonight at 9) marks the first time one of
Cornwell's crime novels has been turned into a TV movie, and it features her Win Garano character, a mixed-race Massachusetts State investigator, and his cold, calculating boss Monique "Money" Lamont.

Sounds good, huh? Nope.

Centric tries "Keeping Up with the Joneses"

When BET announced it would launch Centric, it said it was aiming for an older African-American audience, 25 to 54 years old, adding that perfect examples of its desired audience would be Barack and Michelle Obama.

Since then, the show has been mostly repeats; "Soul Train" episodes, "Miami Vice," "The A Team," R&B videos.

Slowly, though, it's added some original programming. The revived "Soul Train Awards" was, well, embarrassing. A reality show "Model City" didn't seem to fit the demographic.

Tonight, the channel tries again with another reality show, "Keeping Up With the Joneses," (8 p.m.), which chronicles a Houston woman as she raises her two children and tries to move her magazine from regional to national.

"LisaRaye: The Real McCoy": It's all about branding

If there's anyone who should have a reality show, it's LisaRaye.

That's clear from her new show "LisaRaye: The Real McCoy" (TV One, 9 p.m.), in which we watch the actress restart after a failed marriage to the premier of Turks & Caicos.

Reality shows like this are all about branding, and LisaRaye is very clear that she is building a brand, that show business is a business. Why else would she have a signature color (white) and be thisclose with the publisher of a gossip magazine (Sister2Sister's Jaime Foster Brown)?

TV One's "Unsung" takes a special break

It's hard to program against the NCAA championships, so TV One won't be airing "Unsung" tonight. (That's the documentary series that chronicles the life and times of under-recognized or under-appreciated artists.)

Instead, it's offering a special "Unsung: Uncut" (9 p.m.), the will feature performances from past Unsung artists.

Among the offerings Teena Marie with Rick James ("Sucka For Your Love");
Bootsy Collins ("Ain't It Funky Now"); Debarge ("I Like It") and Minnie Riperton ("Lovin You"). 

Then on April 12, the season continues with a look at Stacy Lattisaw, the D.C. 12-year-old with a grown woman's voice.

Nerd black comics go for laughs on "The Awkward Comedy Show"

I like the premise behind "The Awkward Comedy Show" (Comedy Central, midnight); it's basically a showcase of black comics who are not of the Def Comedy variety.

Instead, the show proclaims them nerds, which just means by what I can tell, that they're educated and articulate. They are (from left) Baron Vaughn, Eric Andre, Marina Franklin, Victor Varnado, and Hannibal Buress.

"Amish Grace": Learning to forgive the unforgiveable

I read an article recently about the Lifetime brand struggling with its identity; it doesn't know whether to be the hip network that airs "Project Runway" or the women-in-jeopardy, serious drama network that skews a little older.

I enjoy Heidi and the gang, but I wouldn't want to give up a film like "Amish Grace" (Lifetime Movie Network, channel 47, 8 tonight).

It's a thoughtful, well-acted piece that explores some intriguing issues in an approachable way.

Aphrodite Jones takes another look at the Michael Peterson case

One of Durham's famous true crimes gets another airing tonight at 10 on "True Crime with Aphrodite Jones" (Investigation Discovery; channel 114).

It's the Staircase Murders aka the Michael Peterson case, in which the Durham socialite/author/failed mayoral candidate was convicted of killing his wife by bashing her head with a fireplace poker.

Or, if you ask Mr. Peterson, she fell down the stairs. Just like his friend in Germany.

"Fly Girls": Don't board this flight

I'm no snob; I'll watch any reality show once. Thankfully, that means this is the last time I'll see "Fly Girls" (The CW, 9:30 pm).

The good news is it's only a half hour. The bad news is it's a whole half hour!

"Fly Girls" is a docu-series that follows the glamourous life of flight attendants for Virgin America. Apparently, not even other flight attendants  buy the so-called reality of this show.

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