What's on TV:Shows worth noting for Aug. 25-31
The following are not necessarily recommended by the Monitor. All times Eastern, check local listings.
Kindergarten (HBO Family, 7:30-8 a.m., repeating at 1 p.m.): A wonderful documentary takes us inside one of the best kindergarten classes ever devised. Teacher Jennifer Johnson is a little one's dream teacher - so sweet and supportive, and strong enough to keep 23 little ones on task and on track. The program should be of interest and help to preschoolers and their parents.
The Human Face with John Cleese (TLC, 9-11 p.m., continuing Aug. 27, 9-11 p.m.): The four-part series is supposed to be a "foray into the science and psychology of faces," but it comes off as pop psycho-babble half the time. Comic genius John Cleese lends his wit to the subject, along with actress and model Elizabeth Hurley.
Madonna Live: The Drowned World Tour (HBO, 9-11 p.m.): If you missed Madonna on tour, here's your chance to see her latest concert extravaganza. Twenty cameras will capture the "Material Mom" flying through the air, riding a mechanical bull, and playing guitar in her hometown of Detroit.
The Sandra Bernhard Experience (A&E, 11 p.m.-midnight, nightly through Aug. 31): The attempt here is to break all the rules of late-night TV and create a serious talk show - without bands, studio audience, or skits. The trouble is, the first episode, at least, is pretentious and dull. Bernhard can be excruciatingly funny when she wants to be, but here her self-promotion sounds like weak-kneed irony.
High School (PBS, check local listings): Frederick Wiseman's classic enthralling cinema vérité documentary takes us inside a high school (1967) where the Spanish teacher introduces her kids to existentialism; a dad defends his daughter, who is failing her classes; and gym teachers are tough as nails (see interview with Wiseman, p. 19).
Biography - Words and Music by Leiber and Stoller (A&E, 8-10 p.m.): Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller wrote some of the greatest hits of all time, from the grinding "Hound Dog" and "Jailhouse Rock" to the lyrical "There Goes My Baby" and "Stand By Me." This arresting documentary includes interviews with the "fathers" of rock themselves and others whose lives they touched - Jerry Wexler and Carol King, among many others.