What's on TV

SHOWS FOR APRIL 18-25

Friday 4/18

Saving Private Lynch (A&E, 8-9 p.m.): The A&E special explores the story behind the dramatic rescue of POW Jessica Lynch. It will examine the raid on the Iraqi hospital, and the bravery of "Mohammed," the Iraqi citizen who risked his life to help save her. One little-known fact: A half a century has passed since an American POW was rescued from behind enemy lines. TV-PG

Sunday 4/20

100 Years of Hope and Humor (NBC, 7-9 p.m.) Bob Hope may be a legend in his own time, but this tribute may seem excessive until you realize that Bob Hope is the most celebrated (as in award-winning) entertainer of the 20th century. Not only was he a hit on Broadway, radio, movies, and TV, he was the guy the government could count on to entertain the troops. He has been brave beyond the call of duty, all the while pretending to be a coward in his on-screen performances. His influence over other comics has been tremendous - Woody Allen is always trying to "do" Hope. So it's fun to hear from all those who learned from him or were otherwise encouraged by him through the years. The clips are terrific, too. TV-PG

Helen of Troy (USA, four-hour miniseries beginning 8-10 p.m. tonight, ending April 21, 8-10 p.m.): There's a lot worth watching in this miniseries, despite the title character's inability to act. With Rufus Sewell as Agamemnon, Stellan Skarsgard as Theseus, Matthew Marsden as Paris, and a host of gifted British actors filling all the lesser roles, you'd think they could find a Helen worthy of the title. But what really matters here is the revisionist storytelling that makes Helen and Paris innocent victims of the Greek kings' malevolence. It all makes sense - the selfishness and pride, the lust for power, and the just plain lust for Helen. Naturally, the guys end up blaming her. Gods and goddesses are kept to a minimum. Human beings do all the bad stuff. TV-PG

Thursday 4/24

Race - The Power of Illusion (PBS, 10- 11 p.m., Thursdays through May 8): Anthropologists have been trying to tell us this for years: There's nothing to the notion of race. This series disabuses us of many common notions about race. Well made and scientifically accurate, it debunks the so-called "science" of race that has led to so much hatred, violence, and racism.

Will & Grace (NBC, 9:30-10 p.m.): Madonna isn't exactly a big box-office draw, so why not try the small screen? She guest stars as a man-chasing woman named Liz who wants Karen (Megan Mullally) to move in with her. Leave it to the Material Mom's perfect timing. Her new album, "American Life," just happens to be coming out two days before this episode airs. TV-14

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