Even in these heady days of printed television guides, on-screen info grids and online programming notes, tracking down a movie you really want to see on TV still can be a pain. Sure, Lifetime's got "Sleeping With the Devil" or some such flick at almost every hour of the day, but what if you're craving some Hattori Hanzo sword action or a thought-provoking documentary about graffiti culture? Rest easy, viewers: Here's a handy guide to niche programming that illustrates what you can expect to see and lists some films airing this month.
Niche: Action Tuesdays
Where It's At: USA, Tuesdays, 9 p.m.
What's to Love: Men with stubble; surprisingly combustible cars; plenty of punching, questing, kicking, gouging, justice and lots and lots of guns.
Featured Flicks: "Raiders of the Lost Ark," "Nine Lives," "Beverly Hills Cop III"
Niche: Doc Days
Where It's At: USA, Sundance, Mondays, all day
What's to Love: Expanding your horizons with documentaries on such topics as Ray Johnson, New York's most famous unknown artist; public transportation; and Chechen separatists.
Featured Flicks: "Bowling for Columbine," "Yank Tanks," "Monster Road," "Checkpoint"
Niche: Bravo's Big Picture
Where It's At: Bravo, various days, 8 p.m.
What's to Love: Big Picture replaces Bravo's Five Star Cinema flick lineup with films you might actually want to watch; a welcome mix of the arty and the intriguing.
Featured Flicks: "Clueless," "Sling Blade," "Full Frontal," "The Crying Game"
Niche: Date Night
Where It's At: AMC, Mondays, 8 p.m.
What's to Love: Comedies and romances you've seen so many times that you can miss a little while you kiss a little; misunderstandings that lead to wacky high jinks; people who seem to loathe each other turn out to . . . love each other!
Featured Flicks: "Staying Alive," "The Blues Brothers," "Office Space"
Niche: Samurai Saturdays
Where It's At: Independent Film Channel, Saturdays, 8 a.m.
What's to Love: There's nothing quite like waking up to a little hara-kiri, vengeance killings, the warrior's way and poorly dubbed dialogue.
Featured Flicks: "Zatoichi Challenged," "The Blind Swordsman's Revenge," "Yojimbo"
Niche: Courtroom Dramas
Where It's At: Court TV, Saturdays and Sundays
What's to Love: Produced-for-TV gems of justice, featuring: gavel-pounding, pacing, forensics, swearing to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth and then lying, last-minute stays of execution, and titles that use the words "jury," "evidence," "chambers" and "guilt."
Featured Flicks: "Happy Face Murders," "Guilt by Association," "83 Hours 'Til Dawn," "The Con," "Bodily Harm," "Victim of the Night"
Niche: Secret Stash
Where It's At: Comedy Central, Saturdays, 1 a.m.
What's to Love: Curse words and naughty bits; uncut and uncensored editions of films that would be completely silly if they couldn't effectively offend.
Featured Flicks: Secret Stash: "The South Park Movie," "The Queens of Comedy,"
Niche: Film Fanatic Double Feature
Where It's At: Trio, Saturdays and Sundays, various times
What's to Love: Watching quirky back-to-back films taken from a variety of genres; knowing that you don't have to leave the couch for the next several hours.
Featured Flicks: "The Brady Bunch Movie" and "A Very Brady Sequel"; "Psycho" and "American Psycho"
Niche: Silent Sunday
Where It's At: Turner Classic Movies, Sundays, midnight
What's to Love: Glorious black and white; racy pre-code content; only using one of the five senses; an easy way to see many of the best films ever made.
Featured Flicks: "The Passion of Joan of Arc," "The Rag Man," "Sherlock Jr.," "Body and Soul"