Top Picks: A Mel Brooks special on PBS, Mr. Money Mustache's blog on consuming less, and more

'The Invisible War' documents sexual assault in the military, singer Edie Brickell returns with an album featuring collaborations with Steve Martin, and more top picks.

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    North America, a seven part series
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Beyond hate

It’s hard to imagine a more important topic than understanding what has driven some of mankind’s worst atrocities. Veteran journalist Bill Moyers tackles the topic of hatred in all its historical manifestations – from the Holocaust to gang wars – in Bill Moyers: Beyond Hate, his PBS documentary now out on DVD. Mr. Moyers taps the wisdom of such figures as Elie Wiesel and Nelson Mandela to understand the roots of everything from anti-Semitism, racism, and homophobia to the sectarianism racking many nations today.

Funny man, smart man

Recommended: The 50 best movies of all time

If you expect only low-brow humor from Mel Brooks, director Robert Trachtenberg would like to introduce a rarely seen side of the comedian. “American Masters” airs Mel Brooks: Make a Noise with the earnestness of a graduate film seminar. This engaging look at the intensely private man behind the raucous humor gives depth to his films in which racism and Hitler are targets for his most enduring jokes. To consider Mr. Brooks as an American institution is funny, and, according to Mr. Trachtenberg, smart. Premières on PBS May 20.

America the beautiful

North America, a new, seven-part series, is the latest natural history documentary on Discovery Channel. From Alaska’s towering Mt. McKinley, to the Aleutian Islands where grizzlies and whales battle for food and daily life, to the unexplored jungles of Costa Rica, to the caribou and wolves of Labrador, the continent  brims with an ongoing American narrative: Never give up. The team behind this show certainly did not. Tune in May 19 at 9 p.m.

How to retire young

Mr. Money Mustache retired when he was 30 years old, not long before the birth of his son. He and his wife had normal jobs and a totally normal financial situation. How did he do it? Two words: Consume less. His blog, mrmoneymustache.com, has more than 336 posts to show you just how to do that.

Military secrets

Sexual assault in the military is the subject of the Oscar-nominated documentary The Invisible War. The film documents the stories and difficulties women in all branches of the military have had with both attempting to bring perpetrators to justice and dealing with the assault in their private lives. Airs on PBS May 13 at 10 p.m.

Edie is back!

When she arrived on the scene with a fresh sound and a groovy band – the New Bohemians – decades ago, singer Edie Brickell captivated us. Then she married Paul Simon and disappeared. Her new album, Love Has Come for You, reminds us of just what we’ve missed. She and wild-and-crazy-guy (and ace banjo player) Steve Martin collaborated on the album’s 13 wonderful songs. What sounds like an odd pairing is in fact the feel-good album of the year. Ms. Brickell’s honeyed vocals caress her Texas roots, love lost and found, and the many pleasures of home. Welcome back, Edie.

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