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Off the wall TV: Non-backlot Africa, Halloween howls and more

Off the Wall knows which flicks to pick.

MOVIE MANIA He's the heartbeat of Gen X youth: writer-director John Hughes, whose all-day '80s marathon begins with "Sixteen Candles" and "The Breakfast Club" (Saturday at 9:30 and 11:30 a.m., IFC), both screening again in prime time. Blaxploitation + Halloween, what's not to love about '70s double feature "Blacula" and "Scream, Blacula, Scream" (Saturday at 2:15 and 4 a.m., TCM)? Harry Potter fills prime time all week on ABC Family, starting with "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" (Monday at 7:30 p.m.). And check out African shooting locations throughout the 20th century on TCM Friday night, including 1950's "King Solomon's Mines" (8 p.m.), 1931's "Trader Horn" (10 p.m.), and 1990's "Mountains of the Moon" (12:15 a.m., all on TCM). Full lineup at

WHICH HOLIDAY IS THIS, ANYWAY? Only 75 days till Christmas! Start now with the Santa Paws episode of vetfest "The Incredible Dr. Pol" (Saturday at 9, NatGeo Wild). If you're still in the Halloween spirit, chill thrills include the animation hour "Toy Story of Terror!" and "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" (Wednesday 8-9 p.m., ABC/7), the itsy-bitsy haunts of "Tiny House Nation" (Wednesday at 9 p.m., FYI), and Stephen King flicks kicking off AMC's annual FearFest, starting with "Graveyard Shift" (Friday at 9 a.m.). More titles/times at

SERIES PREMIERES The numbers for the recent preview hour were through the roof, so join the crowd as "Star Wars Rebels" (Monday at 9 p.m., Disney XD) launches its weekly run. Otherwise, the action is unscripted. (Or so they say.) Richard Hammond headlines "Top Gear: Ambitious but Rubbish" (Monday at 9 p.m., BBC America), which mines the UK show's archives to revisit such misses as a convertible minivan. Spike Feresten fills the title role in "Car Matchmaker" (Tuesday at 9 and 9:30 p.m., Esquire), with guest stops promised by pals like Seth Meyers and Jerry Seinfeld. And FYI continues its rebrand from Bio with two new hour shows: "Unlivable" (Wednesday at 10 p.m.), in which a couple renovates a rundown house in a week, and "Midnight Feast" (Thursday at 10 p.m.), with Manhattan's Chelsea Market hosting an after-hours culinary showdown among professional chefs.

REVISIT/RETURN Two HBO shows nearing resumption are first encoring earlier episodes. "The Newsroom" (weeknights 10 and 11 p.m. starting Monday, HBO Zone) starts weeknight repeats from its pilot episode in preparation for its final season start Nov. 9. Lisa Kudrow's 2005 cult series gets an improbable revival of its own next month, but not before "The Comeback" (weeknights at 7 and 7:30 p.m., starting Friday, HBO Comedy) re-presents its vastly underrated original outings. Or watch via HBO On Demand and HBOGo.

SEASON FINALE Before Friday night's 10 p.m. Season 1 finale, "The Knick" (Thursday 8 p.m.-4 a.m., Cinemax; Friday 1:50-9:45 p.m., MoreMax) gets a catch-up marathon. Steven Soderbergh's acclaimed Edwardian-era NYC hospital drama starring Clive Owen has already been re-upped for Season 2. More at


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