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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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‘Galactica’ covers lots of ground

Kevin McDonough United Feature Syndicate

“Battlestar Galactica” (10 p.m., Sci Fi) opens its second season with a bang, demonstrating how a futuristic space opera can blend and defy television genres.

In the space of one hour – even less time with commercials – “Galactica” offers viewers glimpses of a hospital operating-room drama, terrestrial combat action, political intrigue and your standard space dogfight conducted at warp speed.

And just for good measure, we get our share of character-informing flashbacks and the warped dreams and fantasies of a man who fell for a fetching Cylon beauty, as well as the fears of a major character who has been cloned a half-dozen times.

For those who forgot Season 1, the action begins with Cmdr. Adama (Edward James Olmos) hovering between life and death after an assassination attempt by the Cylon version of Sharon (Grace Park). The president (Mary McDonnell) and her ally Lee Adama (Jamie Bamber) still languish in the brig after their political showdown with the commander.

Adama’s right-hand man, Col. Tigh (Michael Hogan), is completely overwhelmed by his unexpected responsibilities. We learn much about his psychological makeup and long history with Adama in a series of revelatory reminiscences.

The most jarring and violent moments of the show take place off the ship on the planet Kobol, where Tyrol (Aaron Douglas) and his team come under fire in a gruesomely realistic combat scene clearly inspired by “Saving Private Ryan.”

Speaking of Steven Spielberg productions, the fifth installment of “Into the West” (8 p.m., TNT) takes the multigenerational saga into the year 1876 and Gen. George A. Custer’s disastrous battle of Little Big Horn.

Eddie Griffin stars in the 2002 comedy “Undercover Brother” (8 p.m., Fox), an “Austin Powers”-like send-up of blaxploitation dramas about the never-ending struggle with “the Man.” Look for Dave Chappelle as Conspiracy Brother in this frequently clever and thoroughly silly film.

In other cable season openers, a new member (Ben Browder) joins the team as “Stargate SG-1” (8 p.m., Sci Fi) enters its ninth season.

And Ford (Rainbow Sun Francks) recovers from his near-fatal encounter with the Wraith on the second-season premiere of “Stargate Atlantis” (9 p.m., Sci Fi).

Other highlights

Repeat stories scheduled on “60 Minutes” (8 p.m., CBS): a preschool Picasso roils the art world; outsourcing torture; a troubled prep school’s basketball team.

Scheduled on “Dateline” (8 p.m., NBC): a “hero” falls under suspicion for his mysterious ability to find trouble when it happens; dark secrets emerge after an apparent suicide.

A dentist (Steve Martin) finds himself embroiled in a criminal conspiracy in the 2001 comedy “Novocain” (8 p.m., UPN).

A lazy teen’s life changes after he adopts a dog in the 2005 TV movie “Life is Ruff” (8 p.m., Disney).

Fake money and real murder on “Numb3rs” (10 p.m., CBS).

Two confessions to the same crime on “Law & Order: Trial By Jury” (10 p.m., NBC).

Scheduled on “20/20” (10 p.m., ABC): debunking popular myths about summer dangers, including sharks, swimming after eating, tanning technology and the skinny on barbecues.

Cult choice

A mysterious stranger (Robert Redford) makes a needy young couple (Demi Moore and Woody Harrelson) an “Indecent Proposal” (8 p.m., WE) in a popular drama from 1993.

Series notes

Silence shields a bully on “8 Simple Rules” (8 p.m., ABC) … Val’s special day on “What I Like About You” (8 p.m., WB).

On back-to-back episodes of “Hope & Faith” (ABC) funeral humor (8:30 p.m.), and major league cameos (9 p.m.) … School daze on “Blue Collar TV” (8:30 p.m., WB).

Some find a Navy shrink wrapped too tight on “JAG” (9 p.m., CBS) … Football fears on “Reba” (9 p.m., WB) … Claude plays matchmaker on “Less Than Perfect” (9:30 p.m., ABC) … Riley’s folks disapprove on “Living with Fran” (9:30 p.m., WB).

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