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The TV Column

Miniseries Labyrinth is a nice change of pace

By Michael Storey

This article was published May 22, 2014 at 2:36 a.m.

Now that it's summer in TV land, viewers are free to stretch their legs beyond their weekly routines.

One good place to begin is The CW's four-hour, two-night miniseries Labyrinth. The action kicks off at 7 p.m. today and concludes at the same time Friday.

If you don't normally visit The CW, you might want to check this out if you enjoy historical drama with a supernatural twist. It's a notch above the usual CW hormonal lineup.

Labyrinth features an impressive multi-national cast including John Hurt (Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy), Sebastian Stan (Captain America: The First Avenger), Jessica Brown-Findlay (Lady Sybil on Downton Abbey) and Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter films).

Filmed on location in Carcassonne in southwest France and Cape Town, South Africa, the miniseries leaps back and forth between modern and medieval France as it follows the lives of two women who are separated by centuries, but united in their search for the Holy Grail.

The series, which has already aired in Britain and several other countries, is an adaptation of English novelist Kate Mosse's 2005 New York Times best-seller of the same name. Here's the setup.

In the year 1209 in Carcassonne, 17-year-old Alais (Brown-Findlay), is given a mysterious book by her father -- a book which he claims contains the secret of the true Grail.

Although Alais doesn't understand the book's strange language and mysterious symbols, her father tells her to protect the book no matter what happens to him. Alais realizes that her destiny lies in keeping the secret of the labyrinth safe.

Eight centuries later, at an archaeological dig in the French Pyrenees, a young volunteer named Alice Tanner (Vanessa Kirby, The Hour) discovers two skeletons in a long-hidden cave -- a cave exuding an ominous sense of evil and foreboding.

Puzzled by the labyrinth symbol carved into the rock, Alice realizes she has disturbed something that was meant to remain hidden. Somehow, a link to a horrific past -- Alice's past -- has been revealed.

Let the mystery begin.

Last Comic Standing. Season 8 of the NBC summer filler starts at 8 p.m. today. The new host for the 13 episodes is JB Smoove (The Millers). This season's celebrity judges are Roseanne Barr, Russell Peters and Keenen Ivory Wayans.

Unfamiliar with the premise? Think of it as American Idol with jokes instead of songs. One twist is that this season the auditions are by invitation only and feature 100 comics competing for the top 20 spots.

Those 20 will compete in a semifinal round, and the best 10 will continue to the challenge rounds.

In this phase, they will compete in different comedy disciplines -- sketch, improv and stand-up -- to prove themselves individually and in teams.

One by one they will be culled until the last comic standing takes the title and wins a prize package that includes an NBC talent deal and a half-hour scripted project to be developed by Universal Television.

And just as with the winners of all the other competition shows, the last comic standing will go on to instant fame and fortune.

No? Here are the show's first seven winners: Dat Phan, John Heffron, Alonzo Bodden, Josh Blue, Jon Reep, Iliza Shlesinger and Felipe Esparza. Recognize any of them? Me neither. Only die-hard stand-up fans will know who they are.

Season finale. Hannibal closes out Season 2 at 8 p.m. Friday on NBC. It was another short season of 13 episodes. I don't follow the series (few do, with viewership around 3 million), but fans will be pleased to know it has been renewed for a third season, to begin early in 2015.

Violence. Take your pick of bloody horror Saturday: The National Hockey League's Stanley Cup Playoff at 6 p.m. on NBC, or Man-Eating Super Squid: Monster Invasion at 7 p.m. on Animal Planet.

The TV Column appears Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. Email:

mstorey@arkansasonline.com

Weekend on 05/22/2014

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