Switched at Birth
Alarms are sounded several times, but we never hear them, in a tremendously effective and thematically overdue episode of ABC Family's best-of-network Switched at Birth (8/7c), which unfolds almost entirely in American Sign Language. By necessity, actions speak louder than words — all in subtitles, or sometimes tweets — as the deaf and hard-of-hearing students at Carlton School for the Deaf rally to protest the school board's decision to shutter their campus. (The hearing students, whose integration into the student body has caused some friction this season, also pitch in.)
Demanding to be heard, they plot to "Occupy Carlton," using a production of Romeo & Juliet as cover. Their anger and exhilaration, and even their struggle to communicate and reach consensus with each other, resonate more dramatically because, like many of the characters in this fine family drama, we're forced to stay in the moment, unable to look away or we miss the message. "Until hearing people walk a day in our shoes, they will never understand," says the sympathetic guidance counselor (Marlee Matlin). This stirring episode is an important milestone in bridging that gap.
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CLASSIC REPLAYS: While we anxiously await the final chapters of Breaking Bad to arrive this summer, Sundance Channel whets the appetite, and gives stragglers who've chosen not to binge-watch online a chance to catch up, by airing this gripping series from the very beginning, with back-to-back episodes airing every Monday (11/10c), covering the first four seasons. Be there to witness the chilling evolution of milquetoast Walter White (the brilliant Bryan Cranston) into the fearsome Heisenberg. ... With rumors again surfacing that the clock is ticking on Jay Leno's tenure at The Tonight Show, what better time for a revival of the devastating late-night satire The Larry Sanders Show, which aired on HBO from 1992-98 and has lost none of its bite. Garry Shandling plays the insecure host, with Jeffrey Tambor as his chronically unhappy sidekick Hank "Hey Now!" Kingsley and Rip Torn as his dyspeptic producer Artie. The cameos by celebrities, playing often unflattering versions of themselves, never cease to amuse. Set your DVRs, because Reelz is airing these hourlong blocks, Monday through Thursday, at very odd times (1 pm/12c and 2 am/1c).
TALK SOUP: ABC's The View (check tvguide.com listings) welcomes back Barbara Walters from her long absence, resulting from a fall during the inauguration in January, followed by a diagnosis of chicken pox. There's no keeping this resilient legend down. Among the scheduled guests: Two and a Half Men's Holland Taylor, whose one-woman show about late Texas governor Ann Richards will open soon at Lincoln Center. ... The syndicated Katie (check tvguide.com listings) gives a platform to "Voices From Newtown," as Katie Couric returns to the Connecticut town for an update on how the community is dealing with its loss while galvanizing the nation with activism regarding gun control and mental health reform.
THE MONDAY GUIDE: As if the fiendish Joe Carroll hasn't done enough damage from behind bars on Fox's The Following (9/8c), he's now demanding a transfer. The feds smell a rat, and unless this show changes its stripes, we fear another snafu. ... There's a Knots Landing vibe on TNT's Dallas (9/8c), as Gary Ewing (Ted Shackelford) returns to help Bobby counter the Ewing Energies coup, while the young 'uns square off in a car race. This is also your last chance to enjoy Larry Hagman as J.R. before next week's funeral episode, where all manner of secrets will be revealed. ... Hal Holbrook checks in to TNT's Monday Mornings (10/9c) as Hooten's mentor, who the staff fears may no longer be fit to wear scrubs. ... From the reality aisle: MTV's World of Jenks returns (11/10c), with filmmaker Andrew Jenks following a year in the lives of three inspiring young people: Chad, who's living with autism and falls in love; Kaylin, a fashion designer who has survived battles with two types of cancer; and D-Real, a dancer from Oakland (Cal.) who hopes to use his art to fight back against the scourge of gun violence that claimed his brother. ... It's makeover time on NBC's The Biggest Loser (8/7c), with Tim Gunn and hairstylist Ken Paves overseeing the transformations. ... Adults find out if they're badge-worthy in National Geographic Channel's Are You Tougher Than a Boy Scout? (8/7c), as they face off in physical challenges (from the Boy Scout Handbook) in the Sequoia National Forest against actual Scouts. ... Like a real-life In Treatment, though undoubtedly much trashier, Bravo's LA Shrinks (10/9c) observes three Los Angeles therapists at work analyzing their clients and then follows them home. So much for patient-client privilege. Or, as always, discretion.
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