Talk about chutzpah. Where other networks and studios have been scurrying to delete movie and TV references to the World Trade Center in an effort to avoid adding to our trauma, A&E kicks off a new series tonight by asking us to wallow in it.
Not the Sept. 11 attacks on the New York landmark, but rather the earlier terrorist bombing on Feb. 26, 1993.
Yes, that's the subject of the first installment of "Minute by Minute" (10 p.m., A&E), a series that reconstructs terrible events through old news footage and new interviews with eyewitnesses, stoking the dramatic fire by continually telling us the time of day.
Macabre doesn't begin to describe tonight's undertaking.
Here, just one month after our national horror, are pictures and stories of people hurt, people killed, people trapped in elevators, people sifting through rubble. There are stories of heroism, too, but they are outweighed by the images of blood and destruction. One man even reads a letter he composed to his wife and children when he thought he wouldn't get out.
The documentary was in the works long before Sept. 11, and a freshly prepared introduction dedicates the program to those killed.
That doesn't suffice as justification for the timing. Who needs this right now? A celebratory comment about the twin towers withstanding the bomb and becoming a symbol of U.S. resilience? Structural engineer Leslie Robertson boasting that the towers were meant to withstand the impact of a "fully laden 707 aircraft"? An ending reminding us that however safe we may feel, we aren't?
Especially not while watching television.
The St. Louis Rams hope the Silverdome has a silver lining as they pay a visit to the Detroit Lions on "Monday Night Football" (6 p.m. ABC).
"Masterpiece Theatre" launches its 31st season with Henry Goodman starring as Shylock in the Royal National Theatre's production of William Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice" (9 p.m. KCET, KCVR).
Actress Melissa Gilbert, also known as Laura Ingalls from TV's "Little House on the Prairie," is profiled on "Biography" (8 p.m. A&E).
Turn out all the lights and stay up late for "The Blair Witch Project" (11 p.m. Showtime), the spooky 1999 hit about an ill-fated student film crew lost in the deep, dark woods.