The not-so-great depression

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“Marcel’s Quantum Kitchen”

Tuesday 10pm, SyFy
Marcel Vigneron was the breakout star of the controversial second season of Bravo’s cooking competition, “Top Chef.” The cocky, crazily-coiffed “molecular gastronomist” (a fancy term for a chef who uses high-tech preparation techniques) was originally portrayed as the series villain, but became the underdog victim after being repeatedly bullied by almost every one of his competitors. He even-tually came in second after flubbing several of his finale dishes, and then made it roughly halfway through the recent “Top Chef All-Stars” season. Now he’s got his own show, in which he and his team of young-turk chefs are tasked with creating inventive menus for demanding clients. Marcel’s not known for playing well with others, or for his self-awareness on camera, but the concept is novel and he does make some cool food.

“Mildred Pierce”

Saturday 9pm, HBO
This new five-part miniseries features some serious Hollywood star power. Director Todd Haynes (Velvet Goldmine, Far From Heaven) adapted the novel and the Oscar-winning film version starring Joan Crawford. Oscar winner Kate Winslet stars in the title role as a middle-class housewife who divorces her cheating, shiftless husband during the Great Depression and becomes self-sufficient, first as a waitress and then as the owner of a string of successful restaurants. Evan Rachel Wood (Thirteen, “True Blood”) plays her spoiled-rotten daughter. Also featured are recent Oscar winner Melissa Leo and reliable character actors Guy Pearce, Hope Davis and Mare Winningham.

“All Together Now: A Celebration of Service”

Monday 8pm, NBC
This special celebrates American volunteers in general, but President George H.W. Bush in particular, for his work in promoting public service in the United States. You might recall that Bush pushed the “thousand points of light” initiative during his presidency, encouraging citizens to get involved with various community organizations. H.W. will be joined on the show by the other three living ex-presidents, his son Dubya, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter, the former no stranger to volunteerism given his longtime association with Habitat for Humanity. Also look for performances by Sheryl Crow, Reba McEntire, Brad Paisley, Kid Rock, Carrie Underwood, Garth Brooks (where the hell has he been?) and Cee Lo Green. God willing, Green will sport the same skinned-Muppet outfit from the Grammys and look directly at the Bush family during a rousing rendition of his hit, “Fuck You.” 

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