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Best bets: 'Elephants' brings circus to town

Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon star in this tale of a Depression-era circus. Also this week: PBS reruns the landmark "American Family" series; Oscar-winning "The King's Speech" comes to DVD.
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He's forever a vampire to many, but in "Water for Elephants," based on the engrossing Sara Gruen novel, Robert Pattinson plays a man who finds himself caring for the animals in a 1930s circus. Reese Witherspoon plays the beautiful horse rider he falls for, and Christoph Waltz the husband who's in their way. The book is dazzling, and the movie looks promising as well. (Opens April 22.)

It's animal-movie time. Recent 3-D release focused on the orangutans of Borneo and the elephants of Kenya. Now Disneynature's "African Cats" tells the true story of a lion pride and a cheetah family. Happy Earth Day, moviegoers! (Opens April 22.)

Think your job's bad? Watch a few episodes of "Hogs Gone Wild" and you'll be thanking your lucky stars for your dull cubicle. The Discovery Channel show follows three teams of trappers in three different states as they track free-roaming wild hogs that can weigh up to 700 pounds each. And they have tusks. Sharp ones. Pass the TPS report, please. (April 19, 10 p.m., Discovery.)

The doctor is in. Again. Still. "Doctor Who" returns this week, with Matt Smith returning as The Doctor. The two-part premiere is set in the U.S., the first time the famously British show has ever filmed here. Lead writer Steven Moffat tells fans "we’re barely 10 minutes into episode one before our heroes face a dilemma that they’ll be staring at months from now. And there will be no easy answers." (April 23, 9 p.m., BBCA.)

Some people claim "The Real World" started reality TV. But the title goes way farther back than that, probably to 1973's "An American Family," which followed the lives of Santa Barbara's Pat and Bill Loud and their five children. The show didn't have any hokey confessionals, but it sure had challenges — Pat asks Bill for a separation while cameras roll, and son Lance broke barriers as one of the first openly gay people depicted on a show. Cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead called the show "as significant as the invention of drama or the novel." The entire show will air this week, the first time that's happened in 20 years. (Begins April 23, PBS, check local listings.)

It won Oscars for best picture, director, actor and original screenplay. If you haven't seen "The King's Speech" yet, it's about time you did. Colin Firth plays King George VI, the dutiful son who never expected to take the throne, but had to step in when his older brother David abdicated for the love of American Wallis Simpson. To lead his nation through World War II, the king had to conquer his own stammer. Geoffrey Rush beautifully plays Lionel Logue, the Australian speech therapist who guides the stubborn royal, and Helena Bonham Carter shines as the women we all came to know as the extraordinarily long-lived Queen Mum. (Out on DVD April 19.)

Gael Fashingbauer Cooper is's movies editor.