CHANNEL SURFER: The Great Caruso Returns

Remember when David Caruso left “NYPD Blue” in a massive firestorm of controversy to become a huge movie star? David Caruso “?

No, not the singer … he’s an actor. He was on “NYPD Blue” before Jimmy Smits. No, seriously, there was a guy named David Caruso, and he was the star of the show. Remember?

Well, anyway, David Caruso returns to TV today in the made for cable nail-biter “Deadlocked” (8 p.m. EDT/PDT, TNT). Caruso plays the prosecutor in this courtroom thriller with a twist. Charles S. Dutton (“Roc,” “Alien 3”) — one of the most convincing angry men in show business — is the “twist.” He plays an angry man, convinced his very guilty-looking son (whom Caruso is prosecuting) is not guilty, and he decides to hold the jury hostage until somebody (Caruso) proves he is right. It’s a cool plot, and both Caruso and Dutton deliver the tension enough to make the drama really work.

In other tube highlights:

“The Crocodile Hunter” has been on for years now, and if you’ve never seen it, you’ve probably heard the rumors. It’s a nature documentary show hosted by a very friendly and quite possibly insane Australian man named Steve Irwin. Irwin simply has absolutely no fear of any of the things we are all supposed to be at least a little bit afraid off — like being eaten alive by wild animals, being bitten by poisonous snakes, etc. What’s worse is that his wife, Terri, comes along with him on most expeditions, and, well, let’s just say the episode where he gets repeatedly bitten by a tree snake that jumps into their boat, causing Terri to fall overboard with a giant, hungry crocodile in the water, was some pretty jaw-dropping television. Anyway, this is your chance to see for yourself, because it’s “Croc Week” on Animal Planet. A full week of the best episodes of “The Crocodile Hunter,” starts today at 8 p.m. EDT/PDT. And by the way, you won’t be disappointed. The rumors are true.

Maybe it’s because they’re usually so proper and easily embarrassed, but when British people do irreverent and outrageous comedy, they really go nuts. This week Comedy Central premieres a new comedy series from the nation that brought us “Monty Python” and “Absolutely Fabulous.” And if you are a fan of those shows, “The League of Gentlemen” (10:30 p.m. EDT/PDT, Monday), while certainly new and different, might just be your (spiked) cup of tea. A headline in the local paper of the bizarro-fictional town of Royston Vasey reads, “New Road Planned – Strangers Expected.” And the strangers do show up pretty quickly – some 60 odd characters (and we do mean “odd”) including men, women and transvestites, all played by the show’s versatile and talented three-man troupe (Steve Pemberton, Mark Gatiss and Reece Shearsmith). It’s weird, it’s British, and it’s highly recommended.

A&E premieres a few new episodes of its popular, often interesting, sometimes not “Biography” series. Today at 8 p.m. EDT/PDT should be a good one as it profiles Sun Records founder Sam Phillips. Much of the most important American music of the second half of this century came from Phillips’ Memphis-based label. And this hour gives Phillips’ own accounts of those revolutionary early recording sessions with Elvis Prestley, Roy Orbison, B.B. King and Johnny Cash. Also premiering this week on “Biography”: Ex-“Happy Days” heartthrob Henry Winkler (8 p.m. EDT/PDT, Monday) and current Royal heartthrob Prince William (8 p.m. EDT/PDT, Wednesday).

“Making the Band” (9:30 p.m. EDT/PDT, Friday, ABC) has its own take on the “Survivor” concept (round up a bunch of real people, dangle a prize for those who can last the season and callously kick one or more of them to the curb each week). Rather than surviving on a desert island, however, the cast of “Making the Band” must survive the even more cutthroat world of show business. The tension is high and the tears flow this week as the seven finalists for the roster of the boyband to be known as O-Town must be cut down to the final five. A little quick math says that two of them, the last two, must go. Man, this reality-based stuff can be tough sometimes. Even if you have no plans to buy an O-Town record when it comes out, this show can suck you in if you’re not careful.