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‘Queer Eye’ helps Iraq-bound GI

Kevin McDonough United Feature Syndicate

“Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” (10 p.m., Bravo) returns for a third season with a “very special” episode that offers a poignant and at times jarring departure for the cheeky series. This time its fashion-deprived subject is named Ray. And he’s got bigger problems than bad hair.

Ray is a soldier due to depart for Iraq in the coming weeks, leaving his wife, Marie, and their 1-year-old daughter for at least 544 days. While putting his affairs in order, Ray discovers that his marriage, which was officiated in Marie’s native Colombia, is not recognized by the military.

So, in a period of a few days, the “Queer Eye” teams set out to give Ray and Marie a proper home; arrange for a memorable wedding ceremony and romantic send-off; and provide Marie and baby daughter with clothes, furniture and amenities to see them through Ray’s absence.

It’s difficult to watch this episode without getting, in Carson Kressley’s words, “a little misty.”

It’s also impossible to avoid the encroaching subtext.

The Fab Five seem genuinely touched by Ray’s sweetness and his stoic dedication to duty. Each of the guys takes time to salute him and wish him well.

With repetition, the message emerges that the gay, sarcastic, name-dropping, witty, New York-based Fab Five supports the troops, too. It’s a noble effort to bridge the manufactured and wearisome Red State-Blue State divide.

This “Queer” concludes with a wedding shower bon voyage in which Ray and Marie receive an astounding number of gifts – donated, no doubt, in exchange for product placement. But while we can cheer for their “Queen for a Day” riches, the episode also serves to remind us of the hundreds of thousands of soldiers and reservists not lucky enough to have corporate-sponsored benefactors.

After the wedding ceremony, the five tastemakers show us how to make a care package for the soldiers in our lives.

Again, this sends a double-edged message.

We’re inspired to reach out and support our troops. At the same time, we’re reminded that the same military establishment that asks these men to risk their lives in a hostile desert doesn’t even seem to supply them with underwear, proper footwear, skin care or sunglasses.

On a similar theme, “Frontline/World” (9 p.m., KSPS) returns for a fourth season with a report from Iraq, where journalists find it increasingly impossible to report without getting kidnapped or killed. “World” also reports on genocide in Sudan and tensions in a Muslim province of China.

An elderly woman recalls the night she was raped, at age 76, and her efforts to keep her attacker behind bars, in the harrowing documentary “A Rape in a Small Town” (8 p.m., HBO).

Other highlights

A “winner” emerges on “The Biggest Loser” (8 p.m., NBC) at least three weeks too late for anyone to care.

The agony comes to an end on the two-hour finale of “The Rebel Billionaire” (8 p.m., Fox).

Novelist Norman Mailer guest-stars on “Gilmore Girls” (8 p.m., WB). You were expecting the author of “The Naked and the Dead” to show up on “7th Heaven”?

Corsican intrigue on “The Amazing Race” (9 p.m., CBS).

A troubled teen’s domestic woes may imperil her parole on “Judging Amy” (10 p.m., CBS).

A young victim of a car crash shows signs of molestation on “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” (10 p.m., NBC).

A serial killer stalks AA meetings on “NYPD Blue” (10 p.m., ABC).

Cult choice

A harried New York mother (Mary Louise Parker) cares for her ailing husband and copes with her son’s peculiar penchant for burglary in the 2004 drama “The Best Thief in the World” (9 p.m., Showtime).

Series notes

A freshwater grave for a sailor on “Navy NCIS” (8 p.m., CBS) … Too much lovey-dovey on “My Wife and Kids” (8 p.m., ABC) … An old friend’s new collar inspires contemplation on “All of Us” (8 p.m., UPN).

Carmen wants to play it safe on “George Lopez” (8:30 p.m., ABC) … Shelly considers a front-end realignment on “Eve” (8:30 p.m., UPN).

Jim treats his neighbors like a sports good-luck charm on “According to Jim” (9 p.m., ABC) … A secret campus cabal on “Veronica Mars” (9 p.m., UPN) … There’s no good reason to watch “High School Reunion” (9 p.m., WB).

Nate’s domestic mess looms large on “Committed” (9:30 p.m., NBC) … Torn between family and the stage on “Rodney” (9:30 p.m., ABC).

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