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Set your TiVo (or not)

You may want to consider setting your TiVo to catch (or avoid) a couple of these upcoming shows, which have the potential to bring God-talk into the open spaces (warning: this post does contain potential spoilers for some of these shows):

Lost (March 29 and another in May): The March 27-April 2 TV Guide reports the March 29 flashback episode will focus on Locke, a character often representing the “faith” side in a constant rehashing of a “faith vs. science” theme in the TV mystery/drama. Producer Damon Lindelof teases, “There’s a direct correlation between Locke’s faith and Locke’s strength, so as long as he believes that this gift has meaning he can use it. But when he begins to doubt it, he can’t use it and that will be an ongoing theme in the show.” The same TV Guide issue also reports that a May flashback episode will focus on Bernard and Rose. Rose has exhibited a strong Christian faith in previous episodes, so this one could delve deeper into that. The episode, according to TV Guide, will reveal how Rose and Bernard met and “that Rose and Locke share something very surprising in common.”

Will & Grace (Thurs. March 30): Britney Spears is making her much-talked-about appearance on the sit-com, playing a Christian conservative sidekick to Jack on his “Out TV” talk-show, which has been bought by a Christian television network. The pop star’s character is brought on to be Jack’s new religious co-host. The twist? Some are reporting Spears’ character will come out as a lesbian. (This episode received a firestorm of attention a couple months ago, when early leaks indicated Spears’ would be hosting a cooking segment called “Cruci-fixins.” That plan was scrapped, apparently because of public pressure from religious groups.)

ER (April 27 & May 4): These two episodes will focus on Dr. Carter’s continuing work in Sudan’s Darfur. They follow-up a May 2 episode entitled “Darfur” (which this blog reviewed), which dramatized the horrible conditions in which millions actually live after being driven from their villages, livelihood and homes by the civil war in Sudan - often by the Janjaweed, an Arab militia recruited from local tribes and armed by the government. Many live in squalid conditions in refugee camps, and hundreds of thousands are effectively cut off from aid because of the region’s remoteness. Tens of thousands have already died of starvation and disease while those who live in the camps and surrounding areas continue to face killings, torture and rape by government forces and militias. Kudos to NBC for moving Darfur out of the newspapers and into our living rooms.

Stephen King’s Desperation (May 18): The March 27-April 2 TV Guide reports that ABC has adapted the Stphen King novel into a miniseries, which features “another creepy battle between good and evil”—this time an ancient body-hopping demon who butchers anyone in his path. Main characters include “an unfortunate cop who becomes possessed by Tak” (Ron Perlman) and the “motley crew of travelers” whose duty it is to stop the thing: “a burned out writer (Tom Skerritt), his aide (Steven Weber), a young wife (Annabeth Gish) and a devoutly religious 11-year-old boy (Shane Haboucha).” King is one to hit and miss the religious angle. We’ll see how this one does.

Of course, there’s always American Idol (keep your eye on Mandisa, a self-professing Christian who belts out a healthy gospel spirit). And what’s the deal with polygamy? Looks like Boston Legal is jumping on HBO's Big Love bandwagon with this Thursday’s episode, which has one of the lawyers defending a polygamist. Big screen films of note replaying on the small screen: Erin Brockovich on April 1 on TNT, Hitch on April 2 on Starz and Hotel Rwanda the same day but on Showtime.