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'Falling Skies,' 'Sopranos' and a few Brits on July 4 weekend

Falling Skies (tv program)The Sopranos (tv program)James GandolfiniHistory (tv network)TNT (tv network)Whoopi Goldberg

Each week Times TV Critic Mary McNamara offers her viewing picks for the coming week:

"Falling Skies." With two sets of alien invaders, a mega death ray under construction, the threat of mind-controlling silverfish around and a crazy alien-accelerated baby doing everything but reciting John Donne, it's hard not to fall for "Falling Skies." Even in a landscape littered with post-apocalyptic tales, "Falling Skies" stands out, if only because it's not afraid to have a little fun, with the audience and the genre.

Sure it would be nice if you'd watched from the beginning (if only to see Noah Wylie's transition from mild-mannered professor to kick-ass president Tom Mason) but it's totally not necessary; jump in any time. All you need to know is that the Earth has been taken over by multi-legged aliens (skitters) who are now being fought by a grim and resolute band of humans now allied with a group of rebel skitters (the ones with the red stripes), and the Volm, who may or may not be hiding something. The main characters, who are in perpetual disagreement with each other about one thing or another, will fill you in on the rest; when in doubt, just listen to whatever Captain Weaver (the redoubtable Will Patton) says -- he's the real secret weapon. TNT, Sundays, 10 p.m.

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"The Sopranos." If you need to be reminded why the recent death of James Gandolfini generated so much elegiac press, HBO wants to remind you by making the series that made him a star available on HBO On Demand. For those who missed "The Sopranos" the first time around, or who have only seen it once, a marathon viewing of the show that turned HBO into a cultural force and launched the modern renaissance of American television, is definitely worth the time. It really was, and remains, all that. 

"666 Park Avenue." I know, I know. It never quite lived up to either its scare factor or satiric potential -- the things people will do to get a nice apartment in New York! -- but it still had a few things going for it: stars Vanessa Williams and Terry O'Queen, a cheesified  "Dark Shadows" charm, and, of course, Whoopi Goldberg revisiting her "Ghost" roots by once once again playing a psychic.  Don't you want to know how it ends? CBS, Saturdays, 9 p.m.

Classic Brit TV.  It may be Fourth of July weekend but that doesn't mean we can't honor the country we once defeated. So grab your Twinings and Hobnobs and cosy up to "Prime Suspect," "Foyles War" "Midsommer Murder" and "Miss Marple," which are just a few of the titles now available on Acorn TV's online streaming service, available at AcornOnline.com/TV.

PHOTOS, VIDEOS & MORE: PHOTOS: TV shows and their spinoffs Overrated/Underrated 2014 PHOTOS: 101 best-written TV shows of all time

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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Falling Skies (tv program)The Sopranos (tv program)James GandolfiniHistory (tv network)TNT (tv network)Whoopi Goldberg
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