BLEAK HOUSE PBS, SUNDAYS, 9 P.M. E.T. Even at eight hours, this adaptation of Charles Dickens' tale of an interminable inheritance case is quite nimble a feat for writer Andrew Davies. The Masterpiece Theatre coproduction captures the novel's satire, melodrama and horror-movie suspense without undercutting any of those disparate tones. Gillian Anderson is haunting as Lady Dedlock, a claimant tormented by the mystery of a long-lost lover. But the emotional heart of the story is Esther (Anna Maxwell Martin), the sensible orphan caught up in the suit. This is law drama such as Boston Legal's David E. Kelley can only dream about.
I AM NOT AN ANIMAL SUNDANCE, CHECK LISTINGS If George Orwell had read US Weekly instead of Marx, he might have written this savage cartoon satire rather than Animal Farm. A band of talking beasts escapes a secret British facility and pursues the idea of freedom--shaped by a diet of tabloids--which consists mainly of getting record deals, obsessing over celebrities and making a pile of money. I Am Not an Animal shows what separates us from the fauna--and it isn't pretty.
TWENTY THOUSAND STREETS UNDER THE SKY BBC AMERICA, FEB. 11 AND 12, 8 P.M. E.T. This wistful mini-series, based on a 1935 Patrick Hamilton novel, is less love triangle than unrequited love triangle. Plain, earnest pub worker Ella (Sally Hawkins) pines for naive, literary barman Bob (Bryan Dick), who in turn pines for Jenny (Zoë Tapper), a streetwalker who pines for her former self, her lost opportunities and her ability to love. Streets is a keen-eyed, elegantly acted noir drama of heartbreak in alleys and darkened movie houses.
EPITAFIOS HBO SIGNATURE, WEDNESDAYS, 9 P.M. E.T. A psychiatrist compliments a killer who arranges elaborate tableaus at his murder sites: "He created a symbolic space full of metaphors." True of this serial killer, and true of this killer serial. Dark, operatic and visually rich, this Argentine drama derives its suspense from its willingness to do anything--including killing off cops who are central to the story. The indispensable star of a crime show, Epitafios understands, is the criminal.
THE CITY GARDENER HGTV, SATURDAYS, 11 P.M. E.T. Britain is known for its grand formal gardens--but also the dank town-house backyards that Matt James renovates: drab, walled pits that are, as he says, "more prison yard than courtyard." His budget-conscious solutions treat each garden like an extension of the house, making up for limited space with careful design. You may not appreciate all his choices--say, the herd of statuary cows traipsing through a patio--but even suburbanites can learn from him about handling common problems, especially lack of sunlight. (This is a British show, after all.)
HUSTLE AMC, SATURDAYS, 10 P.M. E.T. This unapologetically slight con drama is a chrome-plated time machine back to the mid-'60s. In the spirit of Catch Me If You Can, it signals its retro intentions with midcentury-modern production design, a jazz sound track and the casting of Robert Vaughn (The Man from U.N.C.L.E.) as an aging grifter ("You're never too old to cheat, my dear"). Adrian Lester (Primary Colors) is ice cool as Mickey, a Zen master of con who treats his work more as philosophy than fraud. It's all delightfully phony, but will win your faith on charm and panache. Just watch your wallet.