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HBO ventures to a far-off land Irony forgot

1303066842 54 HBO ventures to a far off land Irony forgotBy Kevin McDonough April 16, 2011 12:00 AM

“The Real King’s Speech” (7 p.m., Saturday, Discovery) examines the real-life drama behind the Oscar-winning motion picture. The story of George VI and his stammer has only recently come to light. “Real” examines the pressures brought to bear on an extraordinarily shy man who had had never expected to ascend the throne. Thrust into the role after the abdication of his brother, George was the first monarch of the emerging radio age. World leaders from Franklin Roosevelt to Adolf Hitler had made much of the mass media, so in order to lead, George VI knew that his voice would have to enter the intimacy of every parlor in great Britain.

— The network that brought us “Dirty Jobs” now delivers “Filthy Cities” (8 p.m., Saturday, Discovery). Host Don Wildman uses computer graphics to “travel” back in time to visit urban areas at their most squalid. first up is Medieval London, a 14th-century dungheap where 80,000 people were packed into one square mile. next Wildman visits “new Stinking York” (9 p.m.) a technical rendering of Manhattan in the 19th century, a place teeming with immigrants who arrived only to discover that the streets weren’t exactly paved with gold.

— The Hallmark Channel never sets their movies in Filthy Cities. Tonight’s offering “The Shunning” (9 p.m., Saturday, 8 p.m., Central, Hallmark) takes place in Lancaster, Pennsylvania’s “Plain” community where a soon-to-be married Amish girl discovers that she was not born to the faith, but given up for adoption as an infant. This throws a wrinkle into her wedding plans and leaves the would-be bride caught between two worlds. Sherry Stringfield stars. — HBO takes a spin of the dice, or the runes, with “Game of Thrones” (9 p.m., Sunday, HBO, TV-MA). an ambitious 10-part series based on George R.R. Martin’s fantasy novel “a Song of Fire and Ice,” “Thrones” takes place in a magical kingdom spanning several climates and cultures, a place where seasons can last decades and supernatural spirits haunt frozen borders for thousands of years on end. For all of it’s novelty, “Thrones” feels thoroughly grounded in the he-man genre, spanning in sensibility from medieval northern Europe with its broadsword bashers to the sun-kissed isles of the Mediterranean, where bare-chested horsemen mount steeds and wenches with a grim nonchalance. Featuring a plot too complicated to explain without a flowchart, “Thrones” boils down to battle between rival families for the kingdom and the glory, etc. The folks way up North have the gruff-and-tumble style of Europeans barely out of the dark ages. they haven’t had much time for refinement, having defended some kind of frozen walled border for 7,000 years. Some of their enemies have the platinum locks found on old ABBA album covers. they make a strategic alliance and bond through a gruesomely loveless marriage to brutal horsemen who dare not laugh. If I seem to be infusing this synopsis with feeble attempts at humor, forgive me. For there is little found onscreen. with the exception of a rather bookish, randy and cynical dwarf, no character is endowed with anything resembling wit or seems capable of uttering memorable dialogue. Like a lot of fantasy lore, “Thrones” seems long on imaginative narrative marinated in the mythic and familiar. There’s certainly enough going on to make you wonder what will happen next. but the biggest mystery here is why “Game of Thrones” is airing on HBO. it seems closer in sensibility to Syfy or Starz. I simply cannot imagine that the audience that showed up for “Mildred Pierce” will stick around for the second decapitation.

— Fans of Woody and Buzz can watch “Toy Story” (6:05 p.m., Starz), “Toy Story 2” (7:26 p.m.) and “Toy Story 3” (9 p.m.) without changing the channel. — a job seeker fakes a marriage in the 2011 romantic comedy “Truth Be Told” (8 p.m., Fox, TV-PG). “Idol” contestant Danny Gokey cameos. –Johnny Depp stars in the 2006 sequel “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” (8 p.m., ABC).

— Scheduled on “48 Hours Mystery” (10 p.m., CBS): the not so certain case against Casey Anthony. — Gwyneth Paltrow hosts “Saturday Night Live” (11:30 p.m., NBC, r, TV-14), featuring musical guest Cee Lo Green.

— Scheduled on “60 Minutes” (7 p.m., CBS): an interview with Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen whose forthcoming book casts Bill Gates in an unfavorable light.

— Scheduled on “Dateline” (7 p.m., NBC): Mexico’s drug war leaves thousands murdered or missing.

— Australian forests destroyed by fire bounce back on “Nature” (8 p.m., PBS, check local listings). — Not every crime is against fashion on the new series “Mob Wives” (8 p.m., VH1). — “Human Planet” (Discovery) visits the Arctic (8 p.m.) and “Grasslands and Jungles” (9 p.m.).

— a new maid brings a sad history on “Upstairs Downstairs” “Masterpiece Mystery” (9 p.m., PBS, check local listings). Part two of three. — The cast of “The Facts of Life” and singers Hall & Oates are among those honored at the TV Land Awards (9 p.m., TV Land). — Faith and peer pressure take center stage on “Nick News with Linda Ellerbee” (9 p.m., Nickelodeon).

— Death by hot tub on “CSI: Miami” (10 p.m., CBS, TV-14,V).

— Nora comes clean about Brody on “Brothers and Sisters” (10 p.m., ABC, TV-14).

— Rosie’s ex gets the third degree on “The Killing” (10 p.m., AMC, TV-14).

— Lucrezia’s wedding does not go well on “The Borgias” (10 p.m., Showtime, TV-MA).

A lovesick loser (Dudley Moore) makes a deal with the devil (Peter Cook) in the 1967 comedy “Bedazzled” (10 p.m., Saturday, Fox Movie Channel).

Suicide by murder on “CSI” (8 p.m., CBS, r, TV-14) … on two episodes of “Law & Order: Los Angeles” (NBC, r, TV-14), Zuma Canyon (9 p.m.), Silver Lake (9 p.m.) … a prison escapee wants revenge on “Hawaii Five-O” (9 p.m., CBS, r, TV-14) … Schoolyard accusations on “Law & Order: SVU” (10 p.m., NBC, r, TV-14).

“America’s next great Restaurant” (8 p.m., NBC) … a makeover for Moe’s on “The Simpsons” (8 p.m., Fox, r, TV-PG,D,L) … “Extreme Makeover Home Edition” (8 p.m., ABC, TV-PG) … a surprise for Roger on “American Dad” (8:30 p.m., Fox, TV-14) … Caregivers overwhelmed on “Undercover Boss” (10 p.m., CBS, TV-PG) … Omaha Steaks share the aroma of Donald Trump after tonight’s “Celebrity Apprentice” (9 p.m., NBC, TV-PG) … new in-laws on “Family Guy” (9 p.m., Fox, TV-14) … Susan reborn “Desperate Housewives” (9 p.m., ABC, TV-14) … Trying to be cool on “The Cleveland Show” (9:30 p.m., Fox, TV-14).

Kevin McDonough can be reached at kmcdonough@unitedmedia.com.

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