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Return of ‘Hellboy’ is Can’t Miss viewing

In the sequel directed with virtuosity by Guillermo del Toro, superhero Hellboy is called upon to save mankind again . Other top picks this week include the "Greatest American Dog" show and Beck's new album, "Modern Guilt."
/ Source: msnbc.com contributor

Movies

There’s a little Hellboy in all of us. Ugly. Tough. Strong. Dependable. And committed to doing what’s right. Remember, I said “a little.” In “Hellboy II,” however, we get a clear vision of just how much different from all of mankind he truly is. In the sequel directed with virtuosity by Guillermo del Toro (“Pan’s Labyrinth”), superhero Hellboy is called upon to save the world from the forces of evil when an ancient truce between humans and a fantastic world of monsters and beasts is broken. Hellboy ain’t much to look at — unless you need him. Then he’s beautiful. (Universal Pictures, opens Friday)

Television

GREATEST AMERICAN DOG--Lucky Diamond, the rescue dog of judge Wendy Diamond, sits on the panel of GREATEST AMERICAN DOG, Thursdays (8:00 -- 9:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Photo: Courtesy of Wendy DiamondCourtesy Of Wendy Diamond / CBS ENTERTAINMENT

I have the greatest American dog. Unfortunately, he has let himself go a little bit, and is pretty much resting on his reputation these days. It’s as if middle age has sapped him of his desire, and all he wants to do is sit on the porch and whistle at dames. Fortunately, not all dogs have lost their ambition. The reality series “Greatest American Dog,” premiering this week, showcases some of the nation’s more competitive canines and their owners. There is a top prize of $250,000 for the winning team of owner and dog that triumphs after the games are complete. Ordinarily, I would say the human would get most of that and the dog might get stiffed. However, after seeing what Leona Helmsley’s dog received, don’t be surprised to see some pooch litigation. (CBS, Thursday, 8 p.m.)

Music

Beck had one more album to put out under his current major record deal, and it’s done. The bad news is that it’s his shortest in quite a while, weighing in at about 33 minutes. The good news is that he’s on top of his game again, as long as you’re of the ilk that loves his game. The new CD, “Modern Guilt,” comes out Tuesday, which happens to be Beck’s 38th birthday. And while there are no obvious singles to be had here, his eccentric brand of funk-techno-pop or whatever other way you’d like to characterize his indefinable style is pure enjoyment for the sonically adventurous. Some of the better tracks on the Danger Mouse-produced disk include “Soul of a Man,” “Volcano” and “Gamma Ray.” He might even get a new record deal with this. (Interscope)

DVD

As far as I know, the U.S. military has not stopped its stop-loss policy, which basically tells our fighting men and women that, if you were planning to come home from assignment in Iraq or Afghanistan, you’d better think again. Kimberly Peirce, who directed “Boys Don’t Cry,” tackled this subject with intelligence and sensitivity in “Stop-Loss.” Starring Ryan Phillippe, the film is on DVD this week with a few extras that include commentary by the director and by co-writer Mark Richard; a featurette called “A Day in Boot Camp,” another mini-doc on the making of the film, and 11 deleted scenes. Making this film didn’t seem to change the Pentagon’s way of thinking, but maybe it might make Americans get a deeper understanding of the sacrifice our troops are making. Maybe. (Paramount Home Entertainment)

Books

One of my goals in life is to visit Larry McMurtry’s bookstore in Archer City, Texas. It’s supposed to be the largest used bookstore in the U.S., and apparently it isn’t all that organized, so you can get lost in there among the dusty titles for days. You might think McMurtry has had enough of books, what with all his writing and selling. But no. Instead, he has penned, “Books,” a memoir that celebrates his love for the written word. Using short, delightful chapters and reflecting upon over 50 years of book mania, McMurtry tries to express just how important the actual hunks of paper and binding are to him and to the rest of the reading public. If the characters in “The Last Picture Show” had had more books available, maybe the town wouldn’t have died when the theater closed. (Simon & Schuster)