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Scott D. Pierce
Scott D. Pierce writes about television for the Salt Lake Tribune. Vice president of the Television Critics Associationn, he's covered TV in Utah since 1990.

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Missing woman Susan Powell
Friday on TV: "Dateline" makes Susan Powell case look like a bad TV movie

The disappearance of Susan Powell takes center stage tonight on Dateline (9 p.m., NBC/Ch. 5). For locals who couldn't have avoided coverage of the story if they'd tried, there's not going to be much of anything new.

Obviously, the story isn't as high-profile in other parts of the country. And you could certainly argue that publicizing the 2-year-old case could help solve it.

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But as is so often the case with "Dateline," it takes real-life crime story and turns it into something resembling a bad TV movie. It's almost embarrassing - the ominous music, the film footage manipulated to look sinister, the over-the-top narration.

"This began as a search for a missing woman, but there is so much more you haven't heard," intones NBC's Keith Morrison. "Wild allegations of abuse, of religious conspiracies, of sexual deviance."

Morrison has interviews with Susan Powell's husband, Josh; with Josh's father; and with investigators from the West Valley police.

Maybe you have to package the story like bad melodrama to get people to watch. But how sad - how disturbing - is that?

Elsewhere on TV ...

Frosty the Snowman (7 p.m., CBS/Ch. 2) is a holiday classic. Frosty Returns (7:30 p.m., CBS/Ch. 2), not so much.

Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (7 and 8 p.m., ABC/Ch. 4): The team helps build a home for the family of a teen who lost his hand in an accident.

Chuck (7 p.m., NBC/Ch. 5): Chuck tries to track down a computer virus.

Grimm (8 p.m., NBC/Ch. 5): An arson case exposes an enduring family feud.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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