PICK OF THE WEEK
Fight for the Right
Sunday, Oct. 12, 10-10:30 p.m.
TV highlights for the week of Oct. 12-18. All times are Eastern; check local listings. Ratings are listed for shows when available.
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
SUNDAY - 10/12
Happily Ever After - Mother Goose: a Rappin' and Rhymin' Special (HBO, 7-7:35 p.m.): In this family cartoon, Salt-n-Pepa keep the rhythm and rappin' moving as the Three Little Kittens, but the rhymes have stopped in Gooseberg Land because Mother Gooseberg (Whoopi Goldberg) has decided to retire. Apparently, too many characters have complained about their rhymes. Denzel Washington and Kathie Lee Gifford also lend their voices. (TV-Y)
Blast Masters: the Science of Explosion (TLC, 8-11 p.m.): Kaboom! This show may be about explosions, but it's anything but dynamite TV. The first half of this three-hour program examines how explosives have shaped our lives - from Fourth of July fireworks to the blasting of the Panama Canal. The most interesting parts of the show focus on a husband-and-wife team who own their own demolition company and travel the world together to turn buildings into rubble. The program then shines the spotlight on Hollywood, where stunt crews blow up sets. There's also the Dynamite Lady, who lies down in a coffin and blows herself up. Seriously, there's got to be an easier way to make a living. (TV-PG)
Masterpiece Theatre (PBS, 9-11 p.m.): The course of true love may never have run smooth, but rarely is it as convoluted as in "The Mill on the Floss," based on George Eliot's novel, and the first offering in the 27th season of "Masterpiece Theatre." Standing between Maggie Tulliver (Emily Watson) and Philip Wakem (James Frain), her poetic, handicapped friend, are floods, poverty, feuding fathers, and unbending brothers. Watson ("Breaking the Waves") is terrific as the spirited miller's daughter, and the period production is lavish, but only fans of 19th-century melodrama will be able to swallow the ending. (TV-PG)
Fight for the Right (MTV, 10-10:30 p.m.): Host Kurt Loder looks at the legal rights of today's young adults in this new half-hour documentary. He takes us to New Orleans, where students are outraged about a 10 p.m. curfew; to Harwood, Md., where a high school honor student was kicked out of his school for carrying a one-inch penknife; and then to Farwell, Texas, where one high school senior is challenging the school district's drug-testing policy. This insightful program illustrates that an increasing number of youths feel their constitutional rights are being violated and that they're prepared to fight for them.
MONDAY - 10/13
Stephen Hawking's Universe (PBS, 9-10 p.m.): This intelligent, thoughtful six-part series isn't afraid to tackle big questions. (The title of the final segment is "An Answer to Everything.") The opener, "Seeing Is Believing," examines man's theories of the universe from a 3,000-year-old hypothesis that the night sky was a sieve that let divine light shine through to the present day. Other episodes explore the big bang, black holes, and relativity. (TV-G)
TUESDAY - 10/14
Nova - Faster Than Sound (PBS, 8-9 p.m.): On the 50th anniversary of breaking the sonic barrier, Charles Yeager recounts his first supersonic flight. The show also features interviews with World War II pilots who recall the mystery behind high-speed flights.
Frontline (PBS, 9-10:30 p.m.): In 1995, American trouble-shooter Frederick Cuny disappeared in war-torn Chechnya. This engrossing documentary explores his life and disappearance.
WEDNESDAY - 10/15
Wishbone (PBS, time varies): The literary pooch goes prime time with this Halloween special based on Washington Irving's "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow." In addition to a masterly performance as the superstitious Ichabod Crane, the intrepid Jack Russell terrier helps his owner win a scavenger hunt and pokes fun at his own show: "What, a dog wear funny costumes. I think not." (TV-G)
THURSDAY - 10/16
Lost in Space Marathon (Sci-Fi Channel, 3 p.m.-4 a.m.): This "anniversary" special commemorates the date the space family Robinson blasted off in the Jupiter II: Oct. 16, 1997. Viewers hand-picked 10 of the 12 episodes, and the evening's entertainment includes one episode of the campy '60s sci-fi series that has never been seen before. Interviews with the original cast and clips from the coming 1998 movie version are sprinkled throughout.
Mystery! - Eye Witness (PBS, 9-10 p.m.): In this second of four intriguing whodunits, housewife-turned-detective Hetty Wainthropp (Patricia Routledge) investigates a case in which a beauty queen-turned-photojournalist is found dead at the bottom of a cliff. Malcolm (David Bower), a deaf-mute man, witnesses the case while bird-watching. He soon disappears and the parents hire detective Wainthropp to find him. (TV-G)
FRIDAY - 10/17
Players (NBC, 8-9 p.m.): A "Sneakers" for the small screen, this engaging new series combines energy and tongue-in-cheek humor. Costas Mandylor, Ice-T, and Frank John Hughes star as ex-cons who run stings for the FBI. In the premire, the trio tries to break into Cuba's Mission to the United Nations to recover $50 million in bearer bonds. (TV-PG)