Tubegazing: 'When the Levees Broke' and 'The Hill'.
When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts (HBO, Aug. 21 & 22, 9 p.m. EDT): In his two-part series on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, filmmaker Spike Lee brings a nearly encyclopedic eye to the political and social fury that followed one of the nation's most devastating natural disasters. Lee interviews more than 100 sources, including the Louisiana governor, the mayor of New Orleans, and scores of affected residents. Cumulatively, the everyday voices of those who waited in vain for help that never came, mingled with the concern of prominent national figures, presents a poignant picture of official blunders and personal loss, and provides important national lessons if another threat this size hits an American city. Grade: A–Skip to next paragraph
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The Hill (Sundance Channel, premières Aug. 23, 9 p.m. EDT): Now that "The West Wing" has made politics ready for prime time, the Sundance Channel brings us the surprisingly delightful yet serious political tale, "The Hill." This six-part cinema-vérité, fly-on-the-wall series follows Florida Rep. Robert Wexler during the 2004 election, pulling back the cover on our political system. The dealmaking and image-shaping are eye-opening, but the single most unnerving aspect of the show is just how young the army of political aides who make the system run really are. Grade: A–