In the Lion's Den with Anthony Hopkins (PBS, 8-9 p.m.): You can tell right away when a celebrity on a nature show is there for reasons beyond his name value. In this skillfully produced program - the season premiere of ``Nature'' - Oscar-winner Hopkins convincingly conveys the lifelong hold lions have had on him, as he leads viewers on a trek into Tanzania to see the animals face-to-face.

The production nicely mixes shots of Hopkins in the city on his way to the adventure. In the bush, the show allows the environment and its wildlife to star. Hopkins's approach is intelligent, low-key, and sincere as he talks of lions and reacts to them when they appear - sometimes frighteningly - on screen.


China: Beyond the Clouds (PBS, 8-10 p.m.): Award-winning filmmaker Phil Agland spent about two years in the Chinese market town of Lijiang to create this National Geographic documentary, airing in two parts. It examines daily life in the town of Lijiang and relates the personal stories of several imhabitants.

Lijiang is a 2,000-year-old community in the Yunnan Province of southwest China, now in the throes of economic reform and a sometimes wrenching move toward free enterprise.

The personal stories swirl around the murder of a 17-year-old boy, the nephew of a butcher in Lijiang. The investigation of the crime, the tensions between townspeople and the authorities, and the intricate web of Chinese society itself - all emerge as the documentary follows the efforts of the butcher to help solve the murder on behalf of the boy's parents. In one scene a convicted drug dealer is marched in front of a crowd before being taken away and executed.

Other themes in Chinese daily life are also traced - including education, the role of women, the hopes of China's new generation -

but they are approached through personal stories that are the main technique of this miniseries. (Part 2 airs Tuesday, 8-10 p.m.).

Please check local listings for these programs.

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