Will Rogers (PBS, 9-10 p.m.): He was not as smooth as Mark Russell, not as reflective as Mort Sahl, yet during the 1920s and `30s Will Rogers loomed much larger in the public mind than these two or any other political wisecracker since. The rustic humorist, cowboy philosopher, film star, and pundit of American life hobnobbed with presidents and Congress - and ribbed them mercilessly in public. He was considered the most popular man in the United States, was the most in-demand dinner speaker, had a daily column that ran in hundreds of papers, appeared on the front page of the New York Times, and wrote best-selling books.

Narrated by Edwin Newman, this special edition of ``American Masters'' examines Rogers's life and career through a range of documentary sources: home movies, newsreel footage, stills, snatches of radio shows, and clips of Rogers uttering his famous quips.

Star Trek: A Captain's Log (CBS, 9-10 p.m.): Although sci-fi in form, it dealt with social and other issues and featured the most ethnically diverse cast of any prime-time series up to then. Yet you wouldn't have guessed from the relatively modest run of the original ``Star Trek'' series on CBS - 1966 to `69 - that it would later become such a cult hit of probably unequaled impact, as felt in reruns, films (its latest incarnation is ``Star Trek Generations''), TV specials, and merchandising.

This reflective special, hosted by William Shatner (Capt. James T. Kirk), traces the original TV series, and its enduring effect on audiences, with clips from the series and feature films. Leonard Nimoy (First Officer Spock), DeForrest Kelley (Dr. Leonard ``Bones'' McCoy), George Takei (Chief Navigator Sulu), and other original cast members tell what it was like to be at the heart of a pop-culture phenomenon that has produced two generations of Trekkies.

Please check local listings for these programs.

of 5 stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read 5 of 5 free stories

Only $1 for your first month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.