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FX’s ‘Over There’ lacks originality

Kevin McDonough United Feature Syndicate

Set in Iraq, the FX combat drama “Over There” (10 p.m., FX) completes its first tour of duty. In the season-ender, the fire team protects a civilian convoy on a road that has seen frequent clashes with insurgents.

As the situation grows more dangerous and intense, squad members begin to doubt the judgment and competence of their superiors.

Elsewhere, Bo gets a break in his attempts to rejoin the Army, and Sergio receives unexpected news from Anna.

Despite its attempts to amplify and comment on contemporary events and the expansion of the story line to include home-front melodramas, “Over There” always seemed to this viewer to be an update of the old “Combat” series.

Like “Over There,” it used battlefield situations to showcase superb ensemble acting. Only I’m still not sure if anyone has emerged as the clear star of “Over There” to match the presence of “Combat” ‘s Vic Morrow.

In a strange twist of fate, Morrow would die during the filming of a combat sequence during the making of “Twilight Zone: The Movie.” The late actor is the father of accomplished actress Jennifer Jason Leigh.

As “Over There” completes its first season, it faces a major distraction. Steven Bochco is not only the producer of “Over There,” he has his name in the official title of the show. ABC has recently recruited Bochco to run the hit series “Commander in Chief,” starring Geena Davis as the first female president of the United States.

“South Park” (10 p.m., Comedy Central) enters its ninth season. Seasons come and go so quickly on basic cable. The crude little cartoon remains Comedy Central’s most popular and durable entity.

The simplicity of the animation allows creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone to complete each episode the day before it airs, giving “Park” a “ripped from the headlines” topicality other animated shows can only envy.

Last season’s Terri Schiavo-themed “South Park” was downright scary in its brilliance and prescience.

Like Howard Stern, that other master of bad taste, “South Park” has inspired a host of imitators, most of them dreadful. It’s difficult to watch an episode of “Family Guy” without seeing it straining to emulate the references and riffs of Parker and Stone.

But while “Guy” and its near identical spinoff “American Dad” consistently sacrifice character and consistency on the altar of the gag, “South Park” is relentlessly character-driven. And that helps explains the success and longevity of television’s most consistently outrageous comedy.

Other highlights

Pentagon politics on “E-Ring” (8 p.m., NBC).

The Houston Astros host the Chicago White Sox in Game 4 of the World Series (5 p.m., Fox).

Freddie takes Zoey to the “Rocky Horror Picture Show” on “Freddie” (8:30 p.m., ABC), proving that the writers of “Freddie” may be caught in a time warp of their own.

A race against time in Seattle on “Criminal Minds” (9 p.m., CBS).

Celebrity dogs and the paws that refreshes on “The Apprentice: Martha Stewart” (9 p.m., NBC).

Adrift in the ocean on “Lost” (9 p.m., ABC).

Those who live by the swordfish shall die by the swordfish on “CSI: NY” (10 p.m., CBS.

A black market in fake flu vaccine leaves a trail of deaths on “Law & Order” (10 p.m., NBC). This repeat episode introduced the character of Assistant D.A. Alexandra Borgia (Annie Parisse, “Prime”).

Worries about an old man and the sea on “Invasion” (10 p.m., ABC).

Cult choice

An American student takes a bite out of Britain in the offbeat 1981 shocker “An American Werewolf in London” (10 p.m., AMC), directed by John Landis.

Series notes

A joy-sticking point on “Still Standing” (8 p.m., CBC) … More tricks than treats on “George Lopez” (8 p.m., ABC) … Tyra Banks hosts “America’s Next Top Model” (8 p.m., UPN) … Hormones rage at the masquerade ball on “One Tree Hill” (8 p.m., WB) … Revenge on “Yes, Dear” (8:30 p.m., CBS) … Jackie’s second chance on “Veronica Mars” (9 p.m., UPN) … The sisters take over Dad’s deli on “Related” (9 p.m., WB).

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