National Geographic Explorer (TBS Superstation, 9-11:30 p.m.): Underwater archaeology - with the help of dramatic film editing - has yielded some evocative TV viewing over the past few years. Melville's haunting words about the bones of ancient navies may come to mind as cameras move dreamlike across historic sunken ships such as the long-lost Titanic. This documentary - an expanded edition of the Explorer series - adds its own compelling clips to the genre, as undersea-expedition leader Robert Ballard a nd his team find ships that were sunk in the battle of Guadalcanal, a turning point in World War II. The physical record is given life by accounts of men who recall the horror of those days, and some of the survivors now meet their former enemies. By way of a pre-Memorial Day tribute to those who fought, former President George Bush, himself a Navy flier in the Pacific theater some 14 months after Guadalcanal, makes an introduction from the decks of the battleship Texas, speaking in personal terms about his
memories and referring to the loss of gunnery officer Ted White. Perhaps fittingly, one of the program's production companies is NHK Japan. MONDAY
The American Television Awards (ABC, 9-11 p.m.): Yes, it's still another awards show, with the usual drill of nominations, excited announcements, and acceptance speeches. But it's a little different from the more familiar prime-time Emmys, which air on the same network this fall. Nominees were picked through a survey of 400 people who write about the medium. Decidedly, that doesn't make the choices any better, but perhaps a little different from what they'd be if selected by members of the profession its elf. Winning actors will get rather lengthy profiles of their careers, and in the case of winning shows, behind-the-scenes video visits will be offered. Even the categories themselves ("Dramatic Series," "Reality-Based Programs," etc.) will be introduced with a look back at the genre and its history in the medium.
Please check local listings for all programs.