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”Warm Springs” looks at FDR, polio

Kevin McDonough United Feature Syndicate

Intimate and powerful, the cable film “Warm Springs” (8:30 p.m., tonight, HBO) explores how Franklin Roosevelt’s experience with polio and paralysis changed his outlook and made him the man who would be elected four times to the presidency.

The film begins with a scene of a paralyzed Roosevelt (Kenneth Branagh) attempting to swim in icy Atlantic waters and then settles into a series of flashbacks of his run for the vice presidency in 1920 and the infidelity that threatens his marriage to wife, Eleanor (Cynthia Nixon).

Thoroughly depressed by his condition, Roosevelt accepted an invitation to a spa in Warm Springs in rural Georgia. Accustomed to posh locales, he’s shocked by the dilapidated resort, its squalid surroundings and the poverty of its neighbors.

But the hot and buoyant mineral waters give Roosevelt hope, and the upper-class Hudson Valley squire learns to get along both with his fellow “cripples” and with the hardscrabble Georgia natives who work in Warm Springs.

One of the film’s more moving scenes occurs when a local high school invites the former secretary of the Navy to speak at its graduation. Self-conscious of his wheelchair, a nervous Roosevelt rattles on aimlessly about his days at Groton and Harvard before he comes to grips with the fact that his life’s lessons are lost on the students and their parents.

As FDR’s host informs him, “These people go to bed hungry almost every night. Your legs are the last things on their minds.”

It’s a milestone-studded weekend for Fox. Now in its 17th season, “Cops” (8 p.m., tonight, Fox) airs its 600th installment with four original episodes.

Is there anybody out there who has watched every “Cops”? That’s a lot of inebriation, pixilation and incarceration.

“The Simspons” will air its 350th episode (8 p.m. Sunday, Fox) this weekend. After a storm hits Springfield, Homer needs to get the roof fixed.

He befriends a handyman named Ray (Ray Romano, “Everybody Loves Raymond”) who doesn’t show up for the job. Soon Marge is convinced that Ray is a figment of Homer’s active imagination, and questions about Homer’s sanity abound. But soon, Homer’s view of the universe is reinforced by the esteemed physicist Stephen Hawking (as himself).

I hope to be around to laugh at the 700th helping of “The Simpsons.”

I can’t say the same for “Family Guy” (9 p.m. Sunday, Fox). The cartoon was dropped by Fox some years back only to become a cult hit as part of Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim programming mix. Unlike “The Simpsons,” which has created dozens if not hundreds of Springfield citizens over the years, “Guy” sacrifices character development and consistency to make cheap jokes about pop culture and other television shows.

“Guy” is followed by the debut of “American Dad” (9:30 p.m., Fox), the cartoon previewed after the last Superbowl. “Dad” looks an awful lot like “Guy,” except in this cartoon, Dad works for the CIA, allowing for an onslaught of political jokes at the expense of character and consistency.

Tonight’s highlights

Daniel Radcliffe stars in the 2001 adaptation of J.K. Rowling’s popular novel “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” (8 p.m., ABC).

The death of a freelance streetwalker on “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” (9 p.m., NBC).

Based on a Marvel comic book, “Man-Thing” (9 p.m., Sci Fi) comes to the small screen. Just don’t call him Swamp Thing.

Scheduled on “48 Hours Mystery” (10 p.m., CBS): a journalist’s secrets may have cost him his life.

A hot-button talk-show hosts blabs his last on “Law & Order” (10 p.m., NBC).

Sunday’s highlight

Scheduled on “60 Minutes” (7 p.m., CBS): interviews with a Guantanamo Bay Army translator; Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell; archaeological evidence of very small human ancestors.

Scheduled on “Dateline” (7 p.m., NBC): Mystery Meat Confidential, an undercover survey of school cafeterias.

The ring cycle continues on “The Contender” (8 p.m., NBC).

A show house for the sightless on “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” (8 p.m., ABC).

Rosie O’Donnell and Andie MacDowell star in the TV drama “Riding the Bus with My Sister” (9 p.m., CBS), directed by Anjelica Huston.

Carlos heads off to the big house on “Desperate Housewives” (9 p.m., ABC).

Four youths share a suicide pact and a train ticket on “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” (9 p.m., NBC).

Gina Gershon guest-stars on “Crossing Jordan” (10 p.m., NBC, TV-14).

– Alex beguiles a patient on “Grey’s Anatomy” (10 p.m., ABC).

Time for a whole new hue? The one-hour special “Color Czars” (10 p.m., HGTV) looks at the elite paint police, the tint tastemakers who choose the colors that will be “in” next season.

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