The latest effort to turn journalism and what used to be called "foreign correspondence" into something edgy, sexy and dangerous continues with the new series "Vice" (11 p.m., HBO).

Hosted by Shane Smith, the owner and co-founder of Vice magazine, "Vice" often seems like a throwback to "Mondo Cane." For the uninitiated, that was the name of a cheap Italian documentary that became a surprise box office hit in 1962, sparking a trend in exploitation "Mondo" movies,

offering drive-in audiences documentary snippets of human behavior at its most extreme, exalted and frequently shocking. It was anthropology for drunken frat boys in search of gross-out entertainment.

"Vice" sets out to explore a changing world that, in the words of Smith, frequently seems increasingly "absurd." In the two "Vice" installments made available for review, we visit the Philippines, where running for office has become a dangerous endeavor. No fewer than 1,200 political candidates have been assassinated in recent years.

In the second segment, Smith himself goes to Afghanistan to look into the increasing use of children as suicide bombers. It's not difficult for terrorists to convince children younger than 8 that they can explode a device with no harm to themselves. They are also unencumbered by any deeper knowledge of the Koran, which forbids murder.

To further understand his story, Smith secures an interview with a member of the

Taliban, who speaks in cryptic aphorisms, neither confirming nor denying the use of children as delivery devices for explosives. But he assures our correspondent that suicide bombings will continue as long as Af-

ghanistan is occupied by foreign troops. So, did Smith gain insight for his viewers, or offer a murderous terrorist a propaganda platform?

Smith has a knack for getting to inaccessible places. He and "Vice" were at the center of a recent visit to North Korea that featured former Chicago Bulls oddity Dennis Rodman. So it's not entirely clear if "Vice" is out to explain the absurdity of modern life or add another ring to the circus.

The show's tone is tattooed, bold, slightly "crazy" and "bad boy." But they're not selling fortified cider -- it's supposed to be journalism. The trip to North Korea was a publicity stunt that put "Vice" on the map. But to what end? A

"Celebrity Apprentice" star got to mingle with a deranged dictator and share incomprehensible patter. In the end, who got played?

---A divorced mother (Joan Crawford) sacrifices all for her spoiled daughter (Ann Blyth) in the 1945 melodrama "Mildred Pierce" (8 p.m., TCM) based on a novel by James M. Cain. It's far more entertaining than the recent HBO adaptation.


---Memories paralyze Juliette on "Grimm" (9 p.m., NBC, TV-14).

---A family's spicy contentions contribute to bland food on "Kitch en Nightmares" (8 p.m., Fox, r, TV-14, L).

---Frances Fisher ("Titanic") and Mykelti Williamson ("24") guest star on "Touch" (9 p.m., Fox, TV-14).

---The FBI stifles Lamb on "Vegas" (9 p.m., CBS, TV-14).

---The Moores turn to eels for dog food on "Yukon Men" (9 p.m., Discovery).

---Crassus fears another Roman is stealing his thunder on "Sparta cus: War of the Damned" (9 p.m., Starz, TV-MA).

---A victim's deep faith may be at the root of her murder on "Blue Bloods" (10 p.m., CBS, TV-14).

---A barroom brawl erupts on "Bering Sea Gold" (10 p.m., Discovery).


A programmer is trapped in a video-game world of his own

creation in the 1982 thriller "Tron" (9 p.m., BBC America) starring Jeff Bridges and Bruce Boxleitner.


---Franchise employees sound off on "Undercover Boss" (8 p.m., CBS, TV-PG).

---Only top sales guarantee immunity for contestants on "Fashion Star" (8 p.m., NBC).

---On two helpings of "Happy Endings" (ABC, TV-14), salon gossip (8 p.m.), Penny's estranged dad (8:30 p.m.).

---Division divided on "Nikita" (8 p.m., CW, TV-14).

---An inventor casts new light on the cooler on "Shark Tank" (9 p.m., ABC, TV-PG).

---Jeff receives a revealing police report on "Cult" (9 p.m., CW, TV-14).


---Tim McGraw, Luke Bryan and Rascal Flatts appear on "Chelsea Lately" (11 p.m., E!, r).

---Chelsea Handler, Ross Bennett and Yeah Yeah Yeahs appear on "Late Show with David Let terman" (11:35 p.m., CBS).

---Jay Leno welcomes Demetri Martin and Gin Wigmore on "The Tonight Show" (11:35 p.m., NBC).

---Bruce Willis, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Divine Fits appear on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" (11:35 p.m., r, ABC).

---Anderson Cooper, Taran Killam and Cat Power appear on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" (12:35 a.m., NBC).

---Craig Ferguson hosts Trace Adkins and Naya Rivera on "The Late Late Show" (12:37 a.m., r, CBS).

Kevin McDonough can be reached at