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Depression-era criminals get glamorous treatment in a new TV movie

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bY Dean robbins

The real Bonnie and Clyde were grotesque killers with no redeeming qualities. But the new TV movie Bonnie & Clyde (8 p.m. Sunday and Monday, A&E, Lifetime and History) swathes them in glamour. As played by Emile Hirsch and Holliday Grainger, they’re Depression-era hotties who look fabulous while robbing banks and breaking out of jail. They even take time to have sex in their getaway car, with the police hot on their trail.

This is no classic, like 1967’s Bonnie and Clyde. Director Bruce Beresford overdoes the dreamy images and the slo-mo. The script dabbles in cheesy sociology, letting our miscreants off the hook as much as it can. (Hey, times were hard.)

Mob City 8 p.m. WeDNeSDaY (tNt) This miniseries is set in 1947 Los Angeles, where a hardboiled detective (Jon Bernthal) battles fedorawearing mobsters for the soul of the city.

Clearly, writer-director Frank Darabont (The Walking Dead) has watched too many Humphrey Bogart movies. Mob City is a compendium of film noir clichés, from the jaded hero to the slinky dames to the two-bit losers. One of those losers (a miscast Simon Pegg) is even more hapless than Darabont intends. He quotes James Cagney in White Heat, even though nobody in 1947 would know that 1949 movie.

So it goes in Mob City, which botches every element of the film-noir genre. Worst of all is the sub-Raymond Chandler dialogue. “This city, it’s a sky full of stars!” says our two-bit loser, grasping for tough-guy poetry. “Up close, it’s all gutter!”

Killer Contact 9 p.m. WeDNeSDaY (SYfY) Syfy’s new reality series features a team of investigators who solve crimes from the distant past, committed by legendary criminals like Jack the Ripper. How do they find answers where others have failed? They have a foolproof method: talking to ghosts. You’d be surprised how chatty the spirits of dead evildoers can be when a group of good-looking American TV personalities come calling.

This week, armed with the latest in paranormal-detection gadgets, our gullible young heroes head to a Romanian castle to figure out if the 15th century tyrant Vlad the Impaler was really a vampire. For all their thermal cameras and infrared sensors, however, the kids try to rouse Vlad’s ghost the old-fashioned way — by screaming at him. “Let’s see how tough you are now!” one of them bellows in a gloomy castle chamber. “Get your ass out here!” Vlad was, they conclude, a vampire.

Six by Sondheim 8 p.m. mONDaY (hbO) This documentary profiles Stephen Sondheim, composer/lyricist of Company, Sweeney Todd and other innovative musicals. It’s artfully organized around six songs. Sondheim himself provides sophisticated commentary in interviews from different periods of his life, with and without beard and cigarettes. Along with learning about his working methods, we hear stories of his horrific childhood a contributing factor to his sometimes dark worldview. Sondheim quotes a letter he got from his mother: “I have only one regret in life, which is giving you birth.”

Tequila Sisters 7 p.m. tueSDaY (tV GuIDe NetWOrk) The TV Guide Network has stumbled on a reality-show goldmine: a wealthy Southern California family with four sexy, spoiled, sassy, TV-ready sisters. The Marin girls are blond counterparts to the Kardashians, and they give them a run for their money in banal self-absorption. Tequila Sisters (named for the family’s tequila-importing fortune) has no trouble finding plot points, given the sisters’ nude photo shoots and $40,000 birthday parties.

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