Backstory: The Poseidon Adventure (AMC, 5:30-8:05 p.m.): A documentary on the 1972 Oscar-winning film about the sinking of a huge ocean liner and the escape of some of its passengers, followed by the film itself, featuring a cast willing to do their own stunts.
Standard Deviants (PBS, various dates through October, check local listings): Terrific new educational show for teens. The first episode, on Shakespeare, and the second, on astronomy, made difficult ideas easily comprehensible. Parents will enjoy the wit as much as the kids will.
Democracy in America (CNN, 10-11 p.m.): This important series continues with "Private Schools - Public Money," a thoughtful documentary about the controversial "school voucher" system. The program looks at African-American activists in Milwaukee who challenge popular wisdom on the subject of private versus public education.
The Royal Diaries (HBO, 7:30-8 p.m.): A promising series debuts with "Cleopatra, Daughter of the Nile," an appealing story about the teenage queen of Egypt. The series dramatizes history from the perspective of young women. Based on Scholastic's bestselling book series for youngsters, this episode celebrates intelligence, courage, and discernment.
Latino Filmmakers Showcase (Showtime, 8-10:05 p.m.): Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15-Oct. 15) receives a unique salute - four fine short films by emerging Latino filmmakers. Among the offerings is "The Hot Room," which finds a young couple wordlessly separating. And the best of the bunch, "Honest Injun," is a dark comedy about thieves whose heist goes awry.
Artists of the West (PBS, 10:30-11:30 p.m., check local listings): The greatest of the Western artists - Charles Russell, Thomas Moran, and Frederic Remington - captured the vanishing frontier with great perception. This superb documentary reveals the contribution of these artists to American art, history, and idealism.
Grosse Pointe (WB, 8:30-9 p.m.): Anyone who knows anything about showbiz and Hollywood will appreciate this scathing satire of a "90210" teen melodrama.
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