WORTH NOTING ON TV
Viewer Call-in (C-Span, 8-8:45 a.m., E.T.): The channel's daily program giving viewers a chance to speak directly with figures active in public affairs. * WEDNESDAY
Brought to You by ... Santa (CBS, 9-10 p.m.): I hate to admit this, but I carry around in my head the ghosts of TV Christmas commercials past - especially some of the schlocky ones that aired decades ago. They have the sort of appeal Noel Coward meant when a character in his play ``Private Lives'' mentioned how effective cheap music can be.
CBS has mounted a whole special of these memories with Mark McEwen as host. Even if you've already had your fill of the season's merchandising frenzy (and let's face it, it's just beginning), this selection of clips may add a bit of perspective, and perhaps a laugh or two. Civil War Journal (A&E, 8-9 p.m.): Here's an effective documentary that describes the powerful camaraderie forged among the men at West Point and illustrates how the growing regional differences leading up to the Civil War tested these friendships. One incident relates the tearful parting of roommates as one leaves for his native Georgia while the other remains at the Point, later to join the Northern forces.
The tale is told through evocative period photos spliced with film clips, visual effects like background flames, and narration by Danny Glover. The technique clearly owes much to Ken Burns's landmark documentary, ``The Civil War,'' yet adds a fast-flowing character of its own. The rush of images - paralleling the narrative and sometimes supplying a visual subtext - builds a sense of impending catastrophe, a momentum toward history.
The show takes care to add plenty of anecdotes involving notable names, like how Grant was arrested at the Point for not going to church; how Jefferson Davis racked up a huge list of demerits; how Lee achieved the incredible record of no demerits during his tenure at the Point.
Please check local listings for these programs.