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BEST OF THIS WEEK

DVD

MICHAEL CLAYTON / / Warner Home Video. Available Tuesday. $28.95, $35.99 on Blu-ray.

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George Clooney plays the title character, a "fixer" for a big-time New York law firm, in this top-notch Oscar-nominated thriller. Having long-ago mortgaged both his intellect and his conscience to the company store, Clayton finds himself in something of a middle-age quandary: Save for a reputation as a guy who can keep the lid on stuff that could otherwise prove embarrassing to the very powerful, he has nothing to show for all his years of hard work. Just as that's causing him to question where he is and how he got there, he's thrown into a crisis that threatens to leave a trail of bodies in its wake, maybe even Clayton's.

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[CHRIS KALTENBACH]

TELEVISION

DEXTER / / 10 tonight. WJZ (Channel 13)

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There has never been a network drama quite as dark as Dexter, which stars Michael C. Hall as a CSI-like forensics expert in Miami who also happens to be a serial killer.

The series premiered on Showtime, the pay-cable corporate cousin of CBS, where it was not such a shock despite the gristle, gore and twisted protagonist point of view. After all, viewers had to pay to see it on Showtime.

But on network TV, even with some softening, it's another matter. CBS came up with the plan as a way to survive the Hollywood writers' strike. Now that the strike's over, it will be interesting to see viewers' reactions -- and how long Dexter lasts on network TV.

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[DAVID ZURAWIK]

MUSIC

TOBY KEITH / / 7:30 tonight, 1st Mariner Arena, 201 W. Baltimore St. Tickets are $43.75-$60.75. Call 410-547-7328 or go to ticketmas ter.com.

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Country music singer-songwriter Toby Keith brings the music of his newest album, 2007's Big Dog Daddy, to Baltimore. The outspoken artist's release has a rock edge, incorporating a Southern blues style into his country sound. Big Dog is Keith's first self-produced record.

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Though no longer feuding with the Dixie Chicks, Keith continues to express patriotism in his lyrics and tone.

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[AARON CHESTER]

THEATER

SIX DEAD QUEENS AND AN INFLATABLE HENRY / / 8 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays; 4 p.m. some Sundays, through March 8. $12-$15. Mobtown Players, 3600 Clipper Mill Road, Suite 114. Call 410-467-3057 or go to mobtownplayers.com.

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Who could resist a play with a title this silly? This Mobtown Players production is billed as "an epic battle to determine the true queen" of Henry VIII. The play features the half-dozen royal ladies who wedded the English monarch in the 16th century -- and who were ultimately divorced, beheaded or died in childbirth -- trapped in a bed together for all eternity.

The show's Web site reads: "Somewhere along the way, they lost the King but found each other." Props supposedly include flying knitting needles and a rotating bed.

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[MARY CAROLE MCCAULEY]

FILM

BEST PICTURE SHOWCASE / / 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday, AMC Owings Mills 17, 10100 Mill Run Circle. $30. Call 443-394-0060 or go to amctheatres.com.

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You say you haven't seen all five of this year's Oscar nominees for best picture and want to sound like you know what you're talking about at the big Oscar-night party? Once again, the AMC theater chain is making it easy, showing all five films in a 12-hour Oscar marathon the day before the awards. As a bonus, you'll also see seven of the 20 acting performances that are up for Oscars this year. The fun begins at 11 a.m. with Michael Clayton (nominated performances from George Clooney, Tom Wilkinson and Tilda Swinton), followed at 1:20 p.m. by There Will Be Blood (a nomination for star Daniel Day-Lewis), at 4:20 p.m. by Atonement (with Oscar-nominated newcomer Saoirse Roman), at 7 p.m. by Juno (a nomination for star Ellen Page) and at 9 p.m. by No Country for Old Men (featuring supporting-actor front-runner Javier Bardem). The $30 ticket price includes unlimited popcorn.

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[CHRIS KALTENBACH]

CLASSICAL

KRONOS QUARTET / / 7:30 p.m. today at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, University Boulevard and Stadium Drive, College Park. $7, $40. Call 301-405-2787 or go to claricesmith center.umd.edu.

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Kronos Quartet -- these have been two of the most stimulating words in the contemporary music world for the past 35 years. This ensemble invariably stretches its own boundaries and that of audiences, creating fresh and provocative experiences in the process. Tonight's program at the Clarice Smith center is a case in point, offering two works written for the group and Wu Man, the virtuosic player of the ancient Chinese instrument called a pipa.

Tan Dun's Ghost Opera from 1994 incorporates additional exotica -- water, metal, stone and paper -- in an exploration of the spirit realm. Terry Riley, the grandfather of minimalism and a frequent Kronos collaborator, wrote The Cusp of Magic for these performers in 2004, drawing upon the sounds of children's toys in a fusion of Eastern and Western idioms.

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[TIM SMITH]


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