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AMC series looks at ‘Fatal Attraction’

Kevin McDonough United Feature Syndicate

The new series “Movies That Shook the World” (10 p.m., AMC) looks at popular films that touched a nerve with the general public and generated debate, controversy and conversation in ways that transcended mere entertainment. The series kicks off with the 1987 thriller “Fatal Attraction.”

Although the 1980s have been dismissed as a rather bland time of shoulder pads and Debbie Gibson records, the discussion of “Fatal Attraction” reminds us of the era’s tense sexual politics and the ongoing debate about a woman’s place in the home, in the boardroom and in the bedroom. Stars Michael Douglas and Glenn Close, producer Sherry Lansing and director Adrian Lyne all recall a film that begins with a casual affair but ends, as one observer describes it, “like a Hitchcock movie on crack.”

The fact that Close’s character, a single, professional and sexually aggressive woman, was depicted as a bunny-boiling psychopath annoyed many feminists as well as women who were merely trying to juggle work, marriage and family life.

Married men and women nervously joked about the film as a cautionary tale. Others felt that its blunt message – that sex equaled danger and death – had become a brutal metaphor for AIDS, then killing tens of thousands of Americans every year.

In the end, both Lansing and conservative film critic Michael Medved see “Fatal” as a deeply moral movie with a message emphasizing that there is no such thing as “casual sex” and that every action has consequences.

Future “Movies That Shook the World” segments will discuss “Birth of a Nation,” “Do the Right Thing,” “The China Syndrome,” “The Graduate,” “American Graffiti,” “The Last Temptation of Christ,” “The Exorcist” and “2001: A Space Odyssey.”

Lucy Lawless guest-stars on “Battlestar Galactica” (10 p.m., Sci Fi) as a reporter sent to document life aboard the ship. The “Xena” star recently appeared in “Locusts,” an over-the-top CBS movie in which she played a fetching undersecretary of agriculture out to save America from a ravenous bug attack.

While the movie was a ratings hit, its star took a great deal of critical ribbing for that role. But Lawless looks back on “Locusts” with both perspective and some humor.

She told this critic, “It was the best compliment of my life to be called the ‘sexiest undersecretary of agriculture on television.’ It was better than winning an Emmy.”

She will reprise her undersecretary role in the TV follow-up “Vampire Bats,” to air Oct. 30 on CBS.

Other highlights

A winning comedy is crowned on “Situation Comedy” (7 p.m., Bravo).

Food fads and youth obesity are the topic of “That’s So Raven” (7:30 p.m., Disney).

Nancy Lopez leads the U.S. team in the hunt in the Solheim Cup competition (4:30 p.m., Golf Channel), pitting the best American women golfers against their European counterparts.

A multinetwork fund-raiser for victims of Hurricane Katrina on “Shelter from the Storm: A Concert for the Gulf Coast” (8 p.m., CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox, WB, UPN and TBS).

Poppy Montgomery and Mark McGrath host “Fashion Rocks” (9 p.m., CBS).

Scheduled on “Dateline” (9 p.m., NBC): The Rolling Stones; the mystery of “the piano man.”

Paul Newman reflects on his love of fast cars and racing on “Costas Now” (9 p.m., HBO).

Murder comes between a group of old friends on the pilot episode of the new drama “Reunion” (9 p.m., Fox).

A “Tom Brokaw Reports” (10 p.m., NBC) takes a rather anecdotal look at the power of evangelical Christians in American politics and society.

Scheduled on “20/20” (10 p.m., ABC): the risk of “loose” nuclear devices and the chances of a nuclear terror attack in the United States.

Cult choice

A psychologist (George Clooney) investigates strange behavior at a space station in the 2002 sci-fi drama “Solaris” (8 p.m., AMC), a remake of a 1972 Soviet film.

Series notes

Dean Cain guest-stars on “Hope & Faith” (9 p.m., ABC) … Van’s possible problem on “Reba” (9 p.m., WB) … A test of management skills on “Less Than Perfect” (9:30 p.m., ABC).

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