A look at this week’s talkers on the TV schedule (VIDEO)

SHARE A look at this week’s talkers on the TV schedule (VIDEO)

“Houdini” (8 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, History)

Oscar winner Adrien Brody (“The Pianist”) channels the legendary Harry Houdini in this exhaustive account of the illusionist’s life and career, from his death-defying stunts to his side jobas a spy. There’s no denying that the Eastern European immigrant from Appleton, Wisconsin had an interesting existence, rubbing elbows with U.S. presidents, Rasputin and Arthur Conan Doyle, but it doesn’t take long before the heavy-handed showfeels repetitive. Andmagic tricks lose a lot of their OMG quality when witnessed on TV instead ofin person. If only Houdinicould have waved a wand and made half of this too-long miniseries disappear.

Rating: [s3r star=2/4]

“The Unauthorized Saved by the Bell Story” (8 p.m. Monday, Lifetime)

I’ve never seen one episode of the early ‘90s Saturday morning staple “Saved by the Bell,” so I had less than zero interest in this behind-the-scenes account of the classroom-set series that debuted a quarter century ago. A screener wasn’t available for review, but several clips I’ve watched haven’t persuaded me to reconsider my original stance. But if you were a fan of Screech, Zack, A.C., Lisa, Jessie and Kelly, you’ll probably enjoy this nostalgic romp told from the POV of uber-geek Screech actor Dustin Diamond (Sam Kindseth).

“Utopia” (7 p.m. Sunday, WFLD-Channel 32)

Fifteen diverse “pioneers” are plucked from their regular lives, put in a remote location with limited supplies for a full year and challenged to create a new and improved society from scratch. They also don’t have plumbing, which isn’t very utopic. Based on a Dutch reality series by the same name, this social experiment sounds like the television equivalent of Ambien chased by a warm glass of milk. Someone at Fox clearly disagrees. The network is giving it a three-night premiere, kicking off with Sunday’s two hour installment followed by an hour-long episode at 7 p.m. Tuesday (regular time slot). Six “special broadcasts” will air on Fridays. Viewers also can get 24/7 access to live streaming video on UtopiaTV.com and the Utopia App.

“Boardwalk Empire” (8 p.m. Sunday, HBO)

The fifth and final season of this artfully-shot Prohibition-era drama settles in for its end run with a premiere featuring one-too-many flashbacks of bootlegger Nucky Thompson’s (Steve Buscemi) early days as a pier boy in late-19th century Atlantic City. The intrigue escalates in the next episode where things are heating up in Chicago, home to a couple of this season’s compelling new players, Al Capone enforcer Mike D’Angelo (Louis Cancelmi) and crime fighter Eliot Ness (Steppenwolf Theatre vet Jim True-Frost).

Rating: [s3r star=3.5/4]

SEE MORE: Watch these “Boardwalk Empire” fans live like Nucky for a weekend in Chicago.

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