PICK OF THE WEEK
The Merrow Report
Friday, Sept. 5, 10-11 p.m.
TV highlights for the week of Aug. 31-Sept. 6. All times are Eastern; check local listings. Ratings are listed for shows when available.
* SUNDAY - 8/31
US Open Tennis (CBS, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; USA, 7:30-11 p.m.): The Grand Slam tournament moves into Week 2 at Flushing Meadows, N.Y. CBS has coverage Sunday, Monday, Friday, and Saturday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m., with a daily highlight show except Sunday, 12:37-1:07 a.m. USA airs matches Tuesday through Thursday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m., and Sunday through Thursday, 7:30-11 p.m.
NFL Football (Fox, 1-4 p.m.; NBC, 4-7 p.m.): Football fans, the wait is over. The preseason games have been played, and now it's time for the real thing. Among the 14 games being played today, here are two that may provide the most action: Dallas Cowboys versus Pittsburgh Steelers (Fox) and Kansas City Chiefs versus Denver Broncos (NBC). Check local listings for additional games.
Recess (ABC, 7:30-8 p.m.): This clever new show from the creators of "Rugrats" picks up where that toddler 'toon left off: school. In the premire, the kids unite to free T.J., who was captured during a daring cafeteria raid in search of the "good food." "Recess" will run on Saturday mornings. (TV-Y)
* MONDAY - 9/1
Twilight Zone Marathon (Sci-Fi Channel, 7 a.m.-3 a.m.): Spend a day in the fifth dimension. The Sci-Fi Channel has submitted for your approval 36 episodes from Rod Serling's classic series, including ones starring Robert Redford, Art Carney, and Robert Duvall. (TV-PG)
Biography (A&E, 8-9 p.m.): This week, "Biography" showcases classic TV personalities, beginning with "Andy Griffith: Hollywood's Homespun Hero." The program will also profile Alan Alda and Phil Silvers and will broadcast repeats of Milton Berle and Carol Burnett. (TV-G)
State of the Union (PBS, 10-11 p.m.): Celebrate Labor Day with Dilbert creator Scott Adams, two women who hope to be the first female refs in the NBA, and a slew of other folks who talk about what it means to work in America today.
* TUESDAY - 9/2
Mystery Science Theater 3000 First Annual Summer Blockbuster Review (Sci-Fi Channel, 6:30-7 p.m.): Think Siskel and Ebert, but with better jokes. Rather than reviewing their typical fare of vintage science-fiction films, the trio (Mike Nelson, Crow T. Robot, and Tom Servo) takes a look at summer's big-budget sci-fi films. Among them: "The Fifth Element" (starring "the guy from 'Moonlighting' and Bozo, played by Milla Jojovich") and "Men in Black" ("Why is Will Smith sitting inside an egg?"). Not as funny as their review of low-budget films, but it's worth a few good laughs.
* WEDNESDAY - 9/3
Star Trek: Voyager (UPN, 9-10 p.m.): Last season ended with Captain Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) on a Borg ship and the Voyager crew agreeing to an unlikely alliance to battle a malevolent new life form. The fourth-season opener resolves the cliffhanger in a riveting episode that has Borg on board Voyager, the ship speeding toward the middle of the alien space, and Janeway in sick bay. The staff also acquires a new crew mate: Borg Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan). (TV-PG)
* THURSDAY - 9/4
Too Soon for Sex?: the Class of 2000 (CBS, 10-11 p.m.): In this frank discussion about adolescent sex, Harry Smith and Alison Stewart travel to the tiny town of Tillamook, Ore., where the teen pregnancy rate was once second highest in the state and is growing again. In this special, a half-dozen high school students share their thoughts on love, relationships, and the difficulty of trying to fit in as a teenager. One of the students we meet is Carol, an honor student, dancer, softball player, and religious person. She had sex at 13 because "I was lonely, and I didn't know what else to do." Most of the students agree that they don't feel comfortable talking about the taboo subject with their parents. The program does a good job of raising the issues but offers few solutions.
* FRIDAY - 9/5
The Merrow Report (PBS, 10-11 p.m.): With American public schools in trouble, states are scrambling for solutions. One of the more popular: charter schools. This well-researched look kicks off John Merrow's four-part series on education. The program begins with California's Fenton Avenue Elementary, formerly considered one of the two worst schools in the San Fernando Valley. Since its charter let administrators cut through red tape, it has done a complete turnaround. For starters, wonders include replacing the school's lone decrepit PC with a computer center, introducing a new phonics course, offering free breakfast and lunch to students, and redoing the playground. Merrow also profiles a Minnesota charter school that emphasizes alternative courses and self-paced learning, and an Arizona charter where, after financial mismanagement, students were given 10 minutes to pack their things before the school closed.
TV-Y All Children
TV-Y7 Directed to Older Children
TV-G General Audience
TV-PG Parental Guidance Suggested
TV-14 Parents Strongly Cautioned
TV-M Mature Audience Only