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Sunday, January 25, 2015 |  Madison, WI: 24.0° F  Overcast
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Tom Selleck hits rock bottom in Jesse Stone: No Remorse
How low can you go?
on
Down in the dumps, just where we like him.
Down in the dumps, just where we like him.

Tom Selleck returns as a depressive small-town police chief in Jesse Stone: No Remorse (Sunday, 8 p.m., CBS). In the latest installment, Selleck's Jesse Stone is down in the dumps - just where we like him - after being suspended from the force. Plus, his wife left him. Plus, his dog died. Plus, he can't get the hang of his new cell phone. He sits around drinking, listening to gloomy music, and trying to connect with his reluctant new dog. He can barely rouse himself when a state commander asks him to help catch a serial killer in Boston.

On paper, it sounds like a drag, but Selleck makes the magic. He conveys a wry sense of humor no matter how low his character sinks. And he does sink low. Every interaction is an excuse for melancholy, even an offer of "uncomplicated sex" from the town hottie (Krista Allen).

She should know by now that, for Jesse Stone, nothing is uncomplicated.

Saturday Night Live
Saturday, 10:30 pm (NBC)

The current season has had its share of misses, but the hits have been spectacular, confirming that SNL is in one of its periodic golden ages. And speaking of "golden," Golden Girl Betty White hosts this week's show as the result of a grassroots Facebook campaign to get her the gig.

The groundswell began after White's startling Snickers commercial during the Super Bowl. She played a puffy-haired granny in powder blue (in other words, herself) who got brutally tackled in the mud during a pickup football game. If the 88-year-old re-creates that tackle on live TV, she's even more of a trouper than I gave her credit for.

America: The Story of Us
Sunday, 8 pm (History)

The History Channel does its part to end the recession by sharply increasing the demand for three-cornered hats, powdered wigs and puffy-sleeved shirts. America: The Story of Us tells the country's history with elaborately costumed reenactments while contemporary talking heads chime in with commentary, including Donald Trump, Colin Powell and Tom Brokaw.

The approach is chauvinistic, emphasizing only positive American qualities like courage and self-reliance. But a line of history that leads straight to Donald Trump must have had a downside, right?

American Masters
Wednesday, 9 pm (PBS)

The Doors tried to take rock into a dark region where reality melted into dreams and transcendence came through derangement of the senses. The results could be embarrassing (that's the danger of such a quest), but they could also be sublime. The handful of sublime moments - that's why we still care about Jim Morrison and company.

The documentary "When You're Strange" tries to transport viewers to that same dark region, via spooky sounds, druggy imagery and pretentious narration by Johnny Depp. This is a major mistake. If you're telling the Doors' story, your main job is to stay out of the band's way. But writer-director Tom DeCillo pushes his bad-trip angle so hard that it overpowers the performance clips, as well as Morrison's streak of humor and mischievousness. DeCillo wanted to make the documentary equivalent of "The End" and wound up with pure hokum.

It's best to leave the dark regions to actual artists, Tom.

Billy the Exterminator
Wednesday, 9:30 pm (A&E)

A&E's reality series features Billy Bretherton, who runs an exterminator business in Louisiana. The company handles extreme infestations of bats, raccoons, snakes, alligators and bobcats, trying to release as many animals back into the wild as possible.

Billy is a memorable character. He has a spiky punk mullet, a goatee and a leather jacket emblazoned with the company's trademark skull. He crawls into tight spaces, looking as comfortable there as the animals he's chasing. And as weird. He's been known to exchange a protective helmet for a monster mask and a feather boa wrapped around his neck.

I hope A&E releases Billy back into the wild after the season ends this week.

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