The facts of “Life”



Sunday 8pm, Discovery

In 2006, Discovery aired the BBC Natural History Unit’s sprawling nature documentary series “Planet Earth.” The 10-part program explored our global ecosystem by focusing each chapter on a different kind of habitat (grasslands, jungles, caves, etc.). No joke, it was one of the most amazing things I have ever seen. Now the same team is back with a sequel of sorts in “Life,” which takes the same approach of chronicling nature with incredible skill and production values, but this time breaks it down by types of living things. So you’ll find an episode on reptiles and amphibians tonight, while future installments will explore mammals, fish, birds, plants, insects, and a couple other specialized topics, like one hour devoted solely to the terrifying shit that lives at the bottom of the oceans. Appropriately narrated by Queen of the Universe herself, Oprah Winfrey. Do yourself a favor and DVR this, and watch it in HD.



Tuesday 10pm, FX

After a solid turn last season on “Damages,” FX has given brooding prettyboy Timothy Olyphant his own show, this one based on books by Elmore Leonard. Olyphant plays Raylan Givens, a U.S. Marshal ordered back to his home turf in Kentucky after getting involved in a messy case in Florida. Givens is a complicated modern cowboy type, and given Olyphant’s work in HBO’s much-missed western “Deadwood,” the role should fit him like a pair of leather chaps.


“Dancing with the Stars”

Monday 8pm, ABC

I don’t usually watch “Dancing with the Stars.” But I might sign on for this new season, the show’s 10th. There are fewer contestants than usual—just 11—so it won’t suck the life out of me for too long. But most importantly, the cast is surprisingly awesome. Yeah, there are the expected has-beens, like the poor sack of leather and bleach known as Pam Anderson. But there are also several of-the-moment contestants, like  newly minted Olympic gold-medal skater Evan Lysacek, still-legitimate pop star Nicole Scherzinger  (of the Pussycat Dolls), and reality-TV star/tabloid favorite/fertile Myrtle, Kate Gosselin. But best of all: Shannen Doherty! You just know she’s going to be slapping bitches backstage. I’ve got $5 that says she rips off that opossum Gosselin’s got strapped to her head by Week 4.